Iain’s second blog

This is my second blog entry since joining the Energy and Low Carbon team on my graduate placement at Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

A key part of Scotland’s renewable energy strategy is growing a new marine energy (wave and tidal) industry, and I am happy to say that my job allows me to be right at the centre of that and to be involved in the creation of a brand new industry for Scotland, and one in which Scotland is leading on the world stage. My involvement is mainly through the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Leadership Forum. I have now attended two meetings of the Leadership Forum, the first in Inverness in September, and the second in Glasgow last week. It is great to see how the different organisations represented on this forum are coming together to support the creation of a world-leading marine renewables industry in the Highlands and Islands. Part of my contribution within the forum is working alongside colleagues here at HIE and The Crown Estate to re-focus the Leadership Forum in light of the designation of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area as a Marine Energy Park. The Marine Energy Park designation is a recognition of the many achievements that have come about through the dedication and hard work of those determined individuals and organisations during the last decade to get this industry to its world-leading status today, and also recognises the huge potential still to be realised for the marine energy sector here in the Highlands and Islands. The dedication that HIE has shown in supporting the creation of this industry over the last decade was recently recognised at the Scottish Green Energy Awards, where HIE was awarded Best Public Sector Initiative.

Since I started my placement I’m happy to say I’ve been able to visit many of the places across the Highlands and Islands where renewable energy projects are taking place. I was in the Outer Hebrides at the beginning of September and visited the Arnish fabrication yard and Industrial Estate near Stornoway, Galson Estate, which has ambitious plans for community energy projects, and the recently commissioned Horshader community wind turbine.

Later in September I was in Edinburgh to visit the Crown Estate,  who were kind enough to arrange for me to meet several members of their team involved with the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters leasing area. The following week I attended a meeting on grid connection in Kirkwall in Orkney and also visited the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness. The grid connection meeting was a good insight into the barriers faced by companies and communities wishing to move the new marine renewable industry forward.

My visits to the Outer Hebrides and Orkney gave me a great sense of how the renewable energy sector is positively impacting on both these island groups. In Orkney I saw how the area is embracing renewable energy, and in particular marine renewables. I was privileged to be shown around Scotrenewables tidal energy device at Hatston Pier – the world’s first floating tidal turbine which is being tested at EMEC. In the Outer Hebrides I saw the Saltire Prize sites where Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power propose to deploy arrays of their wave power devices.

In September we had the Scottish Renewables Annual Marine Conference here in Inverness which I attended. This was a great opportunity to meet a range of people involved in the marine renewables industry in Scotland and hear about their ambitious plans for the development of the industry. This event really helped put a lot of what I’ve been learning about into context, particularly the work I am doing for the Pentland Firth Orkney Waters Leadership Forum. Although it’s early days for our marine energy projects, it is an exciting and fast-paced industry and I am really looking forward to learning more about it, and of course getting out and about to see more projects and meet more of the people working in this sector.

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