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Energy / Orion energy project costs council £850k so far

Things are now reaching a ‘new phase’ as discussions move towards project development

SHETLAND Islands Council has spent around £850,000 so far on the ORION energy project.

Freedom of information figures obtained by Shetland News show that this includes nearly £570,000 spend on external consultants.

Other expenditure includes more than £218,000 on employee costs and nearly £35,000 on studies.

But the wide-ranging project – which aims to see Shetland become a “green energy island” – has already secured significant funding and it’s attracting increasing interest from the industry.

The key aim of ORION is to harness the natural resources of Shetland – onshore and offshore wind, tidal and wave energy – to generate hydrogen and enable the electrification of oil and gas installations.

This would in turn reduce emissions and “create a sustainable and affordable clean energy future”, whilst also providing new employment opportunities.

The idea of a Shetland ‘energy hub’ as part of the transition away from oil and gas was first promoted in 2018 and in early 2020 local councillors approved plans to set up a three-year project.

The ORION project is seen a key way of Shetland going net zero.

Alongside Shetland Islands Council, the University of Strathclyde, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Net Zero Technology Centre are also involved.

Meanwhile a report to councillors due to be heard next week says the ORION team is now engaging with five potential renewable energy business opportunities with developers.

These are mainly related to the future of Sullom Voe Terminal and the area’s port facilities.

The report says this marks the beginning of a “new phase” for the project as things shift towards “actual project development”.

It adds that better communication and wider engagement has led to greater interest in ORION.

“More potential developers and investors are making contact and there is now the possibility of energy transition device testing and trialling being organised in Shetland’s harsher climatic environment,” it said.

The energy transition is high up the agenda following the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Earlier this month a vision for a huge offshore wind farm 90 miles to the north of Shetland and a hydrogen refinery at Sullom Voe were revealed.

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