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Energy / Energy hub plans ‘completely aligned’ with government ambitions, SIC adviser says

Image: Orion Project/SIC

A LEADING player in plans for a Shetland ‘energy hub’ says the UK Government’s hope to create a ‘green industrial revolution’ highlights the speed the country is looking to transition to cleaner forms of energy.

Douglas Irvine, who is Shetland Islands Council’s economic adviser for the Orion Project, said “it looks as though we are advancing this projects at exactly the right time”.

On Wednesday (18 November) Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a ten-point plan which he says could help to create and support 250,000 jobs.

The announcement was generally welcomed, though environmental campaigners pointed out that the £4bn package was modest relative to the scale of investment seen in the likes of France and Germany.

One of the headline proposals is to ban sales of new petrol or diesel cars by 2030 – a decade earlier than anticipated.

Elsewhere there is a focus on growing offshore wind, hydrogen production and carbon capture.

These are elements which tie into the proposed Orion Project, which aims to secure a “clean, sustainable energy future for Shetland and the UK”. It is being led by the council and the Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

Among its many planned activities is using renewable electricity to power offshore oil and gas platforms, while also producing “industrial quantities” of hydrogen.

Other potential opportunities include the repurposing of infrastructure and the redevelopment of parts of Sullom Voe Terminal.

The team behind the plans have submitted funding bids to the UK and Scottish governments totalling nearly £8 million to kickstart the project.

Speaking in response to the UK Government drive for a “green revolution”, Irvine said: “The UK Government’s announcement serves to underline how quickly the UK is seeking to transition to clean forms of energy.

“The Orion project and our related work to obtain Islands Deal support to develop hydrogen production in Shetland are completely aligned with the UK and Scottish Governments’ ambitions to achieve net zero emission targets.

“It looks as though we are advancing these projects at exactly the right time.”

An update on the Orion project got another airing in front of councillors at Tuesday’s SIC development committee meeting.

Shetland Central member Moraig Lyall sought clarity on a forecast that the project could support 1,750 jobs.

Irvine said the figure related to employment opportunities “in and around Shetland”, with some jobs set to be outside the isles but associated with local projects.

Infrastructure director John Smith also said that the move from hydrocarbons will happen and suggested the council has the opportunity to “be in the game and at the table”.

He referred to the decision by the council to invest in building and owning the port of Sullom Voe, which has paid off for the local authority.