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Climate / Council scoops net zero study funding

SHETLAND Islands Council has been awarded a grant of more than £50,000 from the Net Zero Living Programme towards an energy and transport feasibility study in Shetland.

The Net Zero Living Programme is funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, and this phase one funding aims to support 31 places to accelerate their transition to net zero.

The council-led project is called the ‘Shetland Rural Energy Hub’ and it will be undertaken in collaboration with environmental services company Aquatera and Community Energy Scotland. The study will run from the 1 April to 30 June.

The project is a feasibility study to investigate the ‘non-technical barriers’ to implementing a rural energy and transport hub in Shetland.

This was framed using the six categories in the recently published net zero route maps, including transport, energy use and buildings.

The study will make use of earlier and ongoing work by the council to identify potential ways to decarbonise key sectors and reach net zero through an integrated energy and transport hub.

It seeks to address a number of barriers that have been identified so far, including regulation, grid capacity and resource.

All organisations are partners in the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ), a new 10-year programme that begins this summer.

Orkney also received funding through the programme, and the two islands’ projects will link through the new islands growth deal.

Successful projects from phase one of the Net Zero Living Programme will be invited to apply to phase two, which will fund up to six places, with the potential of up to £5 million per project.

Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall said: “The Net Zero Route Maps have increased our success at accessing funding, and it is great that we are moving into the action phase in working towards targets and realising our ambitions for Shetland’s future.

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“Locally focussed projects like the Shetland Rural Energy Hub will have many benefits for the Shetland community.”

Ian Johnstone, a direct of Aquatera, said: “We are excited to be supporting Shetland Islands Council in the innovative Shetland Rural Energy Hub project to explore the feasibility of delivering decarbonisations through a model of rural energy hubs.

“Shetland has been doing pioneering work in decarbonisation for years and this funding provides an important opportunity to draw on learning from previous projects, to consider solutions to overcome the non-technical barriers that have already been encountered and how we can then accelerate the route to net zero.”

Community Energy Scotland chief technical officer Mark Hull said: “Once again apparently remote island communities are at the centre of driving practical, but potentially radical, progress and transition; showing ways we can all prosper, creating local solutions to our global challenge.”

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