2018: A renewed focus on green energy

Areg chairwoman Jean Morrison
Areg chairwoman Jean Morrison
Opinion by Jean MorrisonChairwoman of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group

It’s been an extremely positive year for the renewable energy industry with many ground-breaking projects going live. The increase in activity has built upon the success of the previous year, seeing continued growth in the solar, biomass, hydrogen fuel cell and wave and tidal sectors and achieving a record 10,336MW of installed renewable electricity capacity in Scotland.

The North-east is leading the way with many businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire reaping the benefits of applying their offshore skills to the renewables arena.

This transition has seen our membership figures swell over the past 12 months with an increase in the number of companies developing technologies and solutions to support the energy transition. In order to better engage with our new and existing members we have launched an updated website which holds information on upcoming events, industry news and company profiles in an all-encompassing digital portal. This, combined with the increased membership, will help us promote the extensive capabilities and competencies of the local supply chain to UK and international markets.

The region’s appetite for green energy has led it to develop five offshore windfarm sites – either live or under construction – with a combined investment value of more than £5 billion.

Operating at the cutting edge of the industry and embodying innovation is Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC). We were extremely proud to witness the windfarm generating first power having supported the project since its inception 14 years ago. The 11-turbine project, which boasts the world’s most powerful turbines, is leading the industry’s drive towards competitive clean power.

Hywind, the world’s first floating windfarm, is also generating power off the cost of Peterhead while the large-scale Kincardine offshore windfarm boasts a revolutionary foundation design set to establish the practical and commercial feasibility of floating offshore wind. Beatrice is well on its way to full operational status in 2019 while the Moray West Offshore Windfarm is due to begin construction in 2021.

These sites play an integral role in the Scottish government’s target of producing all electricity from renewable sources by 2020. We have already made great strides to achieving this goal, with 98% of October’s energy consumption being delivered by wind turbines alone.

Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE) for example has recently confirmed it plans to increase the capacity of its 6MW demonstration project in the Pentland Firth by approximately 40%. Atlantis predicts first power from the tidal site in late-2019, subject to consents and funding.

There’s no doubting the region’s drive to enhance and accelerate the development of new technologies across the marine energy sector. Efforts are now being reinforced through EU funding to develop a joint internationalisation strategy for the marine sector.

We are partners in the Europe Leading Blue Energy (ELBE) project which seeks to position Europe as the world technological and industrial leader in blue energy.

The 18-month project, which kicked-off in Brussels earlier this year, will be implemented by a consortium of organisations, which includes AREG, Flanders’ Maritime Cluster (Belgium), Offshoreväst (Sweden), Offshoreenergy.dk (Denmark), under the co-ordination of the Basque Energy Cluster in Spain.

This is a fantastic opportunity for our members and the wider energy community to create a new industrial sector, generate jobs, bolster the local supply chain, and take advantage of export opportunities in the global marketplace as we look to 2019 and beyond.