Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Energy is coming home

It was announced today that the Edinburgh based developers of the Pelamis wave energy converter has secured a lease agreement for waters off the North Sutherland coast. The lease was announced by the FM this week along with the Crown Estate Commission and will allow the company to develop a wave farm in the waters some kilometres out from Bettyhill, allowing for the production of up to 50MW - enough power for 25,000 homes!

This development has been estimated at being between £150 and £200 million. Pelamis Wave Energy had indicated that they are looking to work closely with key stake holders in the local community to maximise the benefits that a wave farm can bring. This must materialise so that communities will derive real benefits form the energy on their doorsteps much as the Shetlanders did from oil in the 1970s.

It is exciting times for the area and the wider region. This week is a momentous as it signals the start of the transformation of the Far North's economy. There is great potential for jobs and real investment to the area.

There is a pool of engineering talent which exists along the north coast because of the nuclear industry. As these sectors decline then there is a real opportunity that this pool will have the chance to take up new posts in the burgeoning renewables industry which will allow them to practice their expertise close to home. Indeed those oil workers forced to seek employment abroad can now make the year of Scottish Homecoming in 2009 something more permanent.

It is almost as if energy is coming home.

It is imperative therefore that the development of Scrabster harbour is accelerated as it will be the closest port that can service the devices which will lie off Bettyhill. HIE must give the Scrabster its full and urgent backing so that the future potential of the waters off Sutherland and the rest of the North Coast can be realised.

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