The energy sector in the Highlands and Islands is well established and diverse including important components of the oil and gas supply chain, an expanding renewable energy sector and a growing involvement in oil and gas decommissioning work.
Since 2010, over £160m has been invested by the public and private sectors in ports in Orkney, Highland, Argyll, Shetland and the Western Isles, placing the region in a strong position to benefit from decommissioning and renewable energy opportunities in particular. Further investment will be required, to build capacity in manufacturing, fabrication, assembly and operation and maintenance facilities.
We will seek to maintain the positioning of the Highlands and Islands as an international centre for marine renewables such as offshore wind, wave and tidal. This will build on the region’s natural resources, the global reputation of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and capitalise on the opportunities to be generated from the establishment of the MeyGen tidal array in the Pentland Firth. In addition to supporting ambitious local businesses, we will utilise Enterprise Area benefits, and those sites identified in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (NRIP), to attract inward investment to the region.
Through Wave Energy Scotland, we will bring together the best engineering and academic minds to collaborate on innovative projects that will accelerate the development of wave technologies.
We will also support the further development of knowledge networks, academic research and education, and work in partnership with Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council to ensure that the opportunities presented by this sector can be supported by skills provision.
The fall in the price of oil will inevitably have implications for the businesses operating within the sector. We will work with the Highlands and Islands Oil and Gas Taskforce and the Energy Jobs Taskforce to help the sector adapt to the new operating environment and implement the recommendations of the Wood review. In particular we will support innovation and collaboration, helping firms finds new ways of working to remain competitive, and seek out new opportunities for expansion in international markets.