Can Scotland become a world leader in renewable energy?

As Scotland's transition from oil and gas to renewable energy is already underway, how can the country become a world leader in the sector?

Wave energy Scotland backs Green Energy Conference June 2022
Wave energy Scotland backs Green Energy Conference June 2022

That was the key question at The Scotsman's Highlands and Islands Green Energy Conference, with headline sponsor Wave Energy Scotland (WES).

The event, which was held at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on Wednesday, 8 June, focused on the role of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise in supporting Scotland to achieve its goal of becoming net zero by 2045 and the required steps to ensure it is achievable.

Wave Energy Scotland (WES)

WES, a subsidiary of the event’s supporting partners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), was established in 2014 to secure Scotland’s position as a leading role in the development of marine energy – and has already successfully helped demonstrate the capabilities of two wave energy pilot projects.

In November, Edinburgh-based Mocean Energy's Blue X wave machine completed its five month test period at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) Scapa Flow test site in Orkney, in which it generated 475 kWh of electrical energy.

Its manufacture and deployment was supported by over £3.3 million from WES through their Novel Wave Energy Converter (NWEC) programme.

The Blue X’s developers said the test provided confidence in their design and the machine’s ability to capture wave energy effectively.

The NWEC programme also saw a similar level of funding from WES to support Inverness headquartered AWS Ocean Energy, which began sea trials at EMEC for initial testing of its Waveswing wave energy converter in April 2022.

Its design features have the potential to deliver reliability while reducing the cost of wave energy.

Such innovations were discussed at the conference, which included representatives from supporting partner Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Renewables and the Highland Council.

Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, delivered a virtual address called The Importance of the Highlands and Islands’ Contribution to Scotland’s Targets.

Panel discussion

A panel discussion entitled Innovation and Transitioning Towards Renewable Energy Systems was chaired by Audrey MacIver, Director of Energy and Low Carbon at HIE.

On the panel were Peter Dennis, Project Manager, Wave Energy Scotland, Eileen Linklater, External Relationships Manager, The European Marine Energy Centre and Alan Greenwood, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, SSE Renewables.

They discussed the innovations currently being implemented in the region, progress in transitioning towards renewable energy systems and powering communities.

Suggesting growing confidence in the sector, 17 offshore wind projects were selected by Crown Estate Scotland in January through the ScotWind Leasing programme, the first seabed leasing round in a decade which totalled almost £700m.

Wave Energy Scotland's Peter Dennis says: “There is significant wave energy resource around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Its availability matches well with electricity demand, and it could provide a real opportunity to fill in some of the energy generation gaps that wind and solar don't always provide.

“ScotWind and its supply chain present a huge opportunity for wave energy to reduce its cost by collaborating and potentially co-locating with offshore wind developments, for example”.

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