COUNCILLORS have decided to press ahead with a “potentially massive project” to make Shetland an “energy hub” that could secure the long-term future of the isles.
Shetland Islands Council (SIC) economic development manager Douglas Irvine told councillors that it was essential not to delay further work on the scheme in order to secure funding ahead of potential competitors.
The council decided to fund the project until its “formative phase” is complete.
It also decided there should be consultations with business and the local community and “other relevant interests”.
In the longer term, the SIC heard, principle investment in the scheme would come from industry and government, with the council and its partner the Oil and Gas Technology Centre steering the initial research phase.
The centre’s Martyn Tulloch said that there could be as many as 14 energy hubs in the UK, but as far as he knew, there were no others being developed in Scotland.
A report on the hub dubs it an “activity programme, set up under the council’s ‘Climate Change Programme’, which is designed to advance Shetland’s position as a strategic and international new energy centre at a time when the energy industry is accelerating its transition from hydrocarbons to renewable energy production”.
It says the “next important step for the Energy Hub Project is the formative phase in which the project team will work with the energy industry and government agencies to identify the workstreams, including research projects and technology trials that are necessary to advance the project towards development activities”.
A key aim of the project is to develop a “clean, sustainable energy future for Shetland and the UK”, with a focus on renewables and hydrogen.
SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison said that it was “very much” about securing the future of the energy industry in the isles and for moving the economy of Shetland ahead.
Council leader Steven Coutts said: “I think this is a crucial project for Shetland going forward. This is not a project that the council can do alone.”
He said that it would mean a “future for all” in the community and that he wanted to see young people thrive.
In response to a question from Shetland North councillor Andrea Manson, Sandison said that the council was seeking “expressions of interest” in the recently closed Scatsta Airport and that the SIC would not be developing anything that would “sterilise” Scatsta’s future use as an airport.
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