MSPs visit Orkney and Caithness to see renewable energy in action


The development of the renewable energy industry in Orkney and Caithness is the focus of a visit by MSPs from the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

This will inform the Committee’s Renewable Energy Inquiry into whether the Scottish Government’s targets on renewable energy are achievable, specifically the challenging target that Scotland would generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020.  

Deputy Convener of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee John Wilson MSP said:
“If Scotland is to meet the Scottish Government’s challenging renewable energy targets then areas like the Highlands and Islands are key to this. The region is capitalising on the renewable energy revolution and is rapidly developing wind, wave and tidal technologies.

“Today we have seen how renewable energy industry has changed the landscape of the Island and also discovered the scale of the development of industry. We have also learned more about the challenges facing the newer marine sector of the industry.

“This visit will help inform our Inquiry and for the Committee to determine the scale of investment needed to meet the targets.”

The Committee visited Hatston Pier to view a tidal power development, took a sightseeing flight which enabled them to get an aerial view of key onshore and offshore renewable sites and also visited the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness. Tomorrow, the Committee will visit Caithness, for a tour of the North Highland College Campus’s new Engineering Technology and Energy Centre and their Environmental Research Institute.

Calum Davidson, Director of Energy and Low Carbon with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said:
"The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters offer an unrivalled source of renewable energy, but that's only one part of the picture. HIE recognises that Scotland needs to be more than an exporter of energy if we're to fully capture the economic benefits which renewables can deliver. That's why we and our partners have invested to create a world-leading research centre at EMEC, develop research and development opportunities through North Highland College UHI, create new infrastructure such as Scrabster harbour and the new business units at Hatston, and strengthen the local supply chain."


In Orkney, the Committee visited:

  • Hatston Pier to view a tidal power development;
  • Orkney Islands Council Marine Services HQ Scapa;
  • Sightseeing flight for an aerial view of key Orkney onshore and offshore renewables sites;
  • European Marine Energy Centre – which is the world’s first and only independent testing centre designed to trial full scale wave and tidal energy concepts.

In Caithness, the Committee will visit:

  • Scrabster Harbour;
  • Engineering Technology and Energy Centre and the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College;
  • Wick Harbour.

The Committee launched its Renewables Inquiry into the achievability of the Scottish Government’s new revised targets within its 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy; specifically the challenging target that Scotland would generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020.

The Committee’s final report is expected to be published in the autumn after it has concluded evidence taking and consideration. 

Other visits associated with this inquiry include a visit by MSPs to Griffin Wind Farm and Hydro developments in Glen Lyon and to Fife to look at the offshore wind energy industry and to visit a local college that is active in training the new workforce.

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