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Renewable energy day helps show leading role of Highlands and Islands in sector

By Calum MacLeod

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse (centre) joins Harper Macleod’s Lorne Crerar and David Bone.
Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse (centre) joins Harper Macleod’s Lorne Crerar and David Bone.

A day celebrating the achievements of the Highlands and Islands renewable energy sector makes sense for the world-leading region.

That is the view of the man behind SHREC, the Scottish Highlands Renewable Energy Conference, which returns to the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness for its 11th year on Thursday, April 30.

SHREC, which will run from 11.30am to 4pm, is the first part of Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Day, and will be followed in the evening by the second Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Awards dinner in the same location.

Both events are supported by leading independent Scottish law firm Harper Macleod, which launched the first SHREC conference in 2010 and has continued to organise the event ever since.

Professor Lorne Crerar, who founded Harper Macleod 32 years ago, said the initial idea behind the conference was to recognise the opportunities that the renewables sector presented for the Highlands and Islands.

“We developed knowledge and skill around that market and the conference was a reaction to that because we realised that knowledge was something people wanted to share,” he said.

“It started off very much focused on land-based wind and has moved on as the sector has developed. Although it was the thought of Harper Macleod and we are the organiser and sponsors of it, people think of SHREC as a national conference, which is good.”

Its national significance has been reinforced by the consistent presence of Scottish Government ministers at each conference, recognising the international significance of the pioneering work being carried out by the renewables industry across the north of Scotland.

The Highlands and Islands Energy Awards are a showcase for the sector’s success.
The Highlands and Islands Energy Awards are a showcase for the sector’s success.

“The Highlands and Islands is absolutely leading the sector because we have got the physical resources of rain for hydro, wind and tide, so it is natural that this should be the centre for knowledge and excellence – and so it is proving to be,” Professor Crerar said.

“I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for that. Mention low-carbon or zero emissions and the Highlands and Islands is the place for opportunity. It’s raining and windy and everything that goes with that, but we can now turn that to our advantage, and technology has come such a long way in the last 10 years, with advances in effectiveness and cost, so we should be excited about it.”

Helping to generate that excitement will be the second Highlands and Islands Energy Awards, which are organised by Energy North publisher Highland News and Media.

Last year’s inaugural saw more than 200 guests attend a black-tie event and this year a cross section of the most influential figures in the north of Scotland are expected to gather once again to reward the achievements of the industry.

Eight categories, as well as the top award for outstanding achievement – chosen by the judges, reflect the diversity of the sector, covering on and off-shore developments, community projects, marine operators and supply chain and services companies, as well as recognising new talent with the most promising individual award.

David Bone, head of energy and natural resources at headline sponsor, law firm Harper Macleod, said: “Following the success of last year’s inaugural awards we’re really excited about this year’s event.

“The first awards turned out to be a fantastic celebration of the renewables sector right across the Highlands, Islands and Moray and I’m sure even more great businesses and people will want to get involved this time around, having seen what a terrific occasion it was.”

Scotland’s rural economy minister Fergus Ewing at last year’s SHREC conference.
Scotland’s rural economy minister Fergus Ewing at last year’s SHREC conference.

The nine award categories are:

  • Best supply chain/service company – sponsored by Port of Cromarty Firth
  • Best on-shore renewable energy project – sponsored by Everard Insurance Brokers
  • Best community energy project – sponsored by Atmos Consulting
  • Best public sector collaboration – sponsored by Fred Olsen Renewables
  • Best off-shore renewable energy project – sponsored by Aspect Land and Hydrographic Surveys
  • Most promising individual – sponsored by Brook Street and Manpower
  • Best smart energy/carbon reduction project – sponsored by Nevis Environmental
  • Best marine operator supporting or supplying off-shore renewables – sponsored by Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
  • Outstanding achievement award (chosen by the judges) – sponsored by Harper Macleod

There is still time to enter any of the eight open categories. To find out more, visit hnmedia.co.uk/renewable-energy-day

The final deadline for entries is Saturday, March 28.

Tickets for the awards dinner can be made on the same site, while SHREC tickets can be reserved by calling 01463 796666 or visiting www.harpermacleod.co.uk/events

The conference is free to attend, but spaces are limited.

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