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£62m energy transition fund 'will boost Highland supply chain'

By John Davidson

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The funding is aimed at speeding up the transition to net-zero in the North Sea.
The funding is aimed at speeding up the transition to net-zero in the North Sea.

A multimillion-pound investment in the energy sector in the north-east is likely to have knock-on benefits for the Highlands and Islands.

On Friday, June 12, the Scottish Government announced a £62 million energy transition fund to help the sector recover from the impact of coronavirus and the oil price crash.

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop said it would support businesses in the oil, gas and energy sectors over the next five years and help it attract private sector investment.

She stressed the funding would help the region become a world-leader in the transition to net-zero, helping Scotland meet its ambitious targets on climate change.

Major projects to be considered for funding include a Global Underwater Hub, Net Zero Solution Centre projects, a Hydrogen Hub, the Acorn project and an Energy Transition Zone.

Ms Hyslop said: “Aberdeen is recognised globally as a centre of excellence in oil and gas and this funding will help ensure that the knowledge, skills and expertise it has to offer will play a vital role in the energy transition.

“It is vital we move quickly to seize the opportunity to take forward a green, low-carbon recovery and support the workforce as the energy sector diversifies. Now is an opportune time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) welcomed the funding package, which it said would benefit businesses across the north of Scotland.

Audrey MacIver, of HIE, says the Highlands will benefit.
Audrey MacIver, of HIE, says the Highlands will benefit.

Audrey MacIver, HIE’s director of energy and low carbon, said: “This increased investment in the energy transition will benefit many businesses in the Highlands and Islands due to the degree of interdependency in the supply chain.

“Our region’s key infrastructure assets will also complement and support north-east energy transition ambitions, so efforts to accelerate the Net Zero Solutions Centre, the Hydrogen Hub and the Energy Transition Zone are very much welcome.”

The focus on energy transition was praised by trade body Scottish Renewables. Its chief executive Claire Mack said: "It is vital that recovery does not ‘lock-in’ fossil fuel extraction, as we have seen in the aftermath of previous economic shocks. Doing so would endanger progress towards our climate targets and miss out on the opportunity to use renewable energy technologies to increase wellbeing and deliver increased socio-economic opportunity across Scotland.

"We are particularly interested to hear more details of how an Energy Transition Zone could focus on low-carbon manufacturing, and would see this as a way of using Scotland’s engineering skills to lower the cost of key technologies like floating wind, wave and tidal power and create opportunities for Scottish supply chain companies."

Oil & Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “The support from the Scottish Government is good news for jobs, supply chain companies and energy communities.

"This significant funding recognises the essential role of Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry in realising a net zero Scotland by 2045."

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