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New Met Office centre at heart of renewables drive

The new forecasting centre will play a pivotal role in the renewable energy drive. Picture: PA

The new forecasting centre will play a pivotal role in the renewable energy drive. Picture: PA

  • by FRANK URQUHART
 

A NEW Met Office forecasting centre in Aberdeen is poised to play a pivotal role in the drive to make Scotland a major powerhouse in the development of renewable energy, it was revealed today.

Expertise built up by Met Office forecasters in the development of North Sea oil and gas is now being harnessed to pave the way for a stream off offshore wind energy schemes off Scotland’s coast.

And Professor Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist at the Met Office, said the opening of the new Met Office in the city demonstrated the agency’s continued commitment to the “Scottish people, the Scottish government and Scotland’s economy.”

She said: “We need to harness the opportunities that our understanding of the natural environment can offer. And Scotland with its natural resources of wind and water is uniquely placed to deliver.

Renewable energy is Scotland’s future and the Met Office Aberdeen has a critical role to play in helping maximise the benefits from these natural resources.”

Prof Slingo added: “None us can be unaware of the challenges that the weather has thrown at us over the last few years - from drought to flood, landsides, high winds, and exceptional snow. If these are the sort of environmental pressures that a changing climate may bring us then more than ever we need the best environmental services that science can provide. And at the Met Office our science is indeed world class.”

Prof Slingo was speaking at the official opening of the new Met Office centre at Lord Cullen House in Aberdeen which will allow the number of forecasters based in the city to be increased from 20 to 34.

The Met Office’s base in Aberdeen was first established in 1940 and is now the centre for providing weather forecasts across the globe for a number of oil majors and leading oil service companies, operating in the North Sea, and as far afield as West Africa and South east Asia.

Alex Hill, the chief government adviser for the Met office for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said the relocation of the Met office to Lord Cullen House, from its previous base at the Bridge of Don, would help the office to meet the increasing demands for its services from both the North Sea oil and gas industry and the burgeoning renewable energy sector.

He explained: “We have been growing our business in Aberdeen consistently over the last ten years or so. Our business is increasingly going global so we really needed the space.

“There is also a big push now on renewables in Scotland. And you don’t build a wind farm without knowing about wind. Everything from design to planning, right through to decommissioning, requires care and understanding of how meteorology is going to impact on the technology.

“These turbines are big and heavy and if they are out there in the ocean it’s a complex problem to get them erected, so we provide a service for that. And once developments are up and running they need repair and maintenance and you need weather windows to get out there.The North Sea is a very inhospitable place but we are very used to working on it because of out efforts with the oil and gas industry over the decades.”

Professor Muffy Calder, the chief scientific adviser for Scotland, officially opened the new offices. She said: “I think it is a testament to the excellent science that is going on here that the Met Office has seen the need to build this new facility.

“It is very appropriate to have a facility that can give a local slant on the weather forecasting service and particularly tailored to the needs of the oil and gas industry here, and other needs within Scotland.”

 

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