Highlands and Islands Energy Jobs and Offshore Renewables Projects

Highlands and Islands Enterprise have just launched a new map on the HI-energy website displaying employment within the energy sector throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  The creation of this map represents jobs covering all stages of the project lifecycle in all aspects of the energy sector – including renewable energy, oil and gas, nuclear decommissioning as well as transmission and distribution jobs.

This interactive map will be a useful tool to highlight the extent of the energy sector and its contribution to the overall economic growth of the region.  The results have painted a very positive picture of the development of the energy sector in the Highlands and Islands so far, with a total figure of over 15,000 jobs.  The map displays figures for each region – Caithness and Sutherland; Shetland; Orkney; Moray; Inner Moray Firth; Innse Gall; Argyll and the Islands; and Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross.

The map also shows employment figures for SSE direct and contracted staff who are working throughout the region on projects including transmission and distribution upgrades, as well as figures for North Sea oil and gas employees who are based in the Highlands and Islands.  Planned and operational offshore wind and marine energy projects around Scottish waters are also incorporated into the map with details provided on the project developer, size, area and relevant leasing round. 

I was given the opportunity to be directly involved in this project along with other members of the Energy Team, gathering all the relevant information on employment figures for each region in the Highlands and Islands.  To try to achieve the desired outcome of this project a scope needed to be set, and at this stage, only HIE account managed businesses are documented on the map, given timescales and access to information and data this was deemed the best approach.  It should be noted that this map is a work-in-progress and it is hoped that in the future the map will be expanded to incorporate non-account managed businesses that have an active presence in the energy sector within the Highlands and Islands along with other offshore renewable energy projects around the region as they are developed.

To gather the required information to create the map I compiled a list of account managed, energy related companies active in the region.  I then contacted each HIE company account manager to get the most up-to-date employment numbers for the Highlands and Islands region.  This is quite difficult to do, especially in this sector, as things tend to move quite quickly, making it difficult to accurately document employee numbers as they are rarely static for prolonged periods of time.  This is compounded with the issue that a number of companies are active in a variety of sectors, so sometimes determining which employees within the business are specifically working on energy projects can be challenging.

However, we eventually received the information we needed to move forward and think about how we wanted to present this information.  We had total employment figures for each area within the HIE region so the simplest way of displaying the information was to show a total figure for each, then, an overall figure for local employees working with SSE and those based in the Highlands and Islands but employed offshore in the North Sea on oil and gas installations.  We decided to use a simple map of the Highlands and Islands which clearly distinguishes each region.  We thought it would be best to have an interactive map containing a “hover function” so that when someone views the map, they can hover the mouse over each region and a pop-up box will appear showing the name of the region and the total energy jobs for that region.  We also wanted to incorporate some icons for SSE, North Sea oil and gas, and offshore renewables projects.  The pylon icon represents SSE projects including transmission and distribution jobs, the rig represents North Sea oil and gas, and the wind turbine and red dot icons represent offshore wind and demonstration projects.  When someone hovers over these icons pop-up boxes also appear showing the relevant information.

This map will be a key stepping stone in the aim to presenting energy activity within the region.  It is important to capture this information to demonstrate the strength of the sector in the Highlands and Islands to date and how the industry is significantly contributing to economic growth, creating a competitive and low carbon region and promoting the Highlands and Islands region as the energy power house of Europe.

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing said:

“Scotland is a world leader in the energy sector and the Highlands and Islands are leading the way with a strong workforce.  The Highlands and Islands is making, and will continue to make a major contribution in delivering Scotland’s energy potential. The expertise, energy infrastructure, and vast renewable energy potential available in the area has secured thousands of jobs and will continue to see the benefit from our significant energy resources.  I welcome therefore this interactive map which will help document the range and scale of activity across the energy sector.”

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