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UHI partnership with energy firm SSE aims to create "positive legacy" in the Highlands


By Niall Harkiss

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A new partnership between the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) and energy company SSE will create a "positive legacy for people, nature, and local economies", electricity network chiefs say.

The recently announced strategic partnership sets out a common aspiration between the entities to work closely, built on the delivery research, education, and employability initiatives which are to be targeted across the region.

Rachel McEwen, Chief Sustainability Officer (SSE), Dr Stephanie Strother, Energy Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (UHI), Alison Wilson, Director of Economic Development and Advancement (UHI). Photo: UHI
Rachel McEwen, Chief Sustainability Officer (SSE), Dr Stephanie Strother, Energy Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (UHI), Alison Wilson, Director of Economic Development and Advancement (UHI). Photo: UHI

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The overall objective of the formal agreement is to ensure that as many of the job and economic opportunities in the Highlands and Islands as possible will benefit its people and communities, supporting environmentally sustainable economic development, whilst protecting some of the most important, globally significant ecosystems.

With the Highlands and Islands at the heart of an accelerated transition to net zero, the partnership aims to play a key role in delivering a cleaner, secure, and more homegrown energy system for Scotland, the UK, and beyond.

Rachel McEwen, chief sustainability officer for SSE, explained: “'The scale of the coming investments in the Highlands and Islands is enormous. Upgrading existing and building new electricity infrastructure, delivering on renewable energy projects, and building on a legacy of hydro schemes all bring with them great opportunities and challenges.

“The success of green energy projects depends not only on access to natural resources, but on access to skills, directly and through the supply chain.”

“As such, there is a natural fit for SSE and UHI to identify common ground and the ways in which we can work together, and we're delighted to be partnering with UHI to ensure that our investments create a positive legacy for people, nature, and local economies.

Alison Wilson, director of economic development and advancement for UHI, said: “It is vital that UHI works in partnership with and understands the needs of industry, and we are delighted to be entering this strategic partnership with SSE, formalising a long-standing relationship between us, built on a history of collaboration and support.

“Right now, UHI has 36,000 students enrolled on courses with us. We have a further 36,000 graduates who make up our alumni community and an additional 3000 higher education students graduated from UHI in the past few months alone. With around two thirds of our students coming from within our regions, that’s a significant potential labour pool available to support the renewable energy sector here in the north of Scotland.

“Our shared ambition of harnessing the potential of renewable energy to provide the opportunities that will allow the next generation to choose to build their lives here, is vital to the future sustainability of our regions.”


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