The Highlands and Islands are on the brink of an energy revolution, according to HIE's new Director of Energy and Low Carbon, Calum Davidson.
Speaking at the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen today (Thursday 19th May), Calum outlined his vision for the region's energy industry and the importance of careful and co-ordinated activity to ensure that the long-term, sustainable economic benefits are secured for the Highlands and Islands.
Mr Davidson made reference to the huge benefits hydro power brought to the north of Scotland in the 1940s and 1950s, and the major economic boost delivered by oil and gas in the 1970s and 1980s, but looking forward, he believes the region is set to benefit from longer-term impacts of offshore renewables.
"The Highlands and Islands are on the brink of a new energy revolution," he said.
"The next ten years will see the installation of major offshore wind farms around Scotland, and an accelerating deployment of hundreds of wave and tidal devices in the seas around the Highlands and Islands.
"Ports and harbours, engineering and fabrication yards and companies across the region will all benefit from the huge investment needed to capture the power of the waves, tides and winds of the North of Scotland."
However, while Mr Davidson said the region is currently at the forefront of marine energy developments, he warned we must not be complacent.
"This is a fast-moving sector and there are many other regions of the world looking at capturing the power of the waves and tides. While the Highlands and Islands have some of the best natural resources, world-leading expertise and facilities, we must ensure that we stay in the lead and maximise the benefits this fast-emerging industry offers.
"We need careful and co-ordinated activity from all involved to make sure that as much as possible of the testing and deployment, manufacturing and fabrication, assembly and commissioning, and long-term operations and maintenance is embedded in the North of Scotland."
Mr Davidson delivered his regional update presentation this morning [Thursday 19 May], on the second day of the UK's largest renewable energy exhibition and conference. The Highlands and Islands are being represented by 68 exhibiting companies on the HI-energy and Orkney pavilions.
The event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre has attracted more than 7,000 delegates from across the globe, over 500 exhibitors and 280-plus speakers.