A £140million civic square proposed for Aberdeen city centre could fast-track the north-east’s drive to become a world leader in the development of renewable energy technology.
A feasibility study into oil services tycoon Sir Ian Wood’s vision of raising the Denburn Valley to street level includes plans for a £15million Energy Futures Centre.
Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group had originally planned to build the flagship research centre in Beach Boulevard, but yesterday welcomed moves for the scheme to be included in a revamped Union Terrace Gardens.
Engineering experts have said the ambitious plans to deck over the gardens to give Aberdeen a “new heart” are deliverable, with city councillors expected to give the project the go-ahead to move into a 12-month consultation phase on Tuesday.
The new square could have three underground levels, the first of which is offering the potential for Peacock Visual Arts planned new centre, as well as restaurants, a heritage museum and visitor attractions linked to north-east attributes such as granite, paper, fishing, whisky and golf.
The Energy Futures Centre could also be accommodated on the concourse level, in a move which would fulfil Sir Ian’s dream that the civic square project provides Aberdeen with a legacy from the North Sea oil era, as well as shaping the city’s post-oil future.
Renewables chief operating officer Morag McCorkindale said: “There is huge potential to bring together two major projects that will benefit the region, the regeneration of the city centre and the creation of an Energy Futures Centre.
“It could also fast-track our plans for the centre which is vital to establishing Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire as a global leader in renewable and clean energy.
“Our centre will be a visible, long-term statement of the region’s commitment to renewable energy which underlines the aim to make Aberdeen a world energy centre.”
The centre would include office space, conference and training suites for research into the latest in renewable energy technology.
The renewables group is a private-public partnership which recently revealed plans to build the UK’s first offshore wind testing centre as part of a £160million windfarm two miles off Aberdeen’s coast.