Conference report: Highlands and Islands region is potential powerhouse

Raymond Bremner of Highland Council lays out the future

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner believes the region has the potential to be a green energy powerhouse.

He told The Scotsman’s Highlands and Islands Green Energy Conference that the Highlands could one day generate a third of Europe’s energy demand.

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He also welcomed recognition by the Scottish Government that the region has a key role to play in a sustainable transition to green energy.

Highland Council leader Raymond BremnerHighland Council leader Raymond Bremner
Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner

Bremner said: “I am hopeful that, with the right support and promise of investment, we can not only match the ambition shown for Highland, but maybe exceed all expectations in our impact we can have both nationally and within the global energy economy.

“According to estimates, the Highland has the potential to generate a third of Europe’s energy demand, which could cement Highland’s potential to become a powerhouse for Europe.

“We offer opportunity for a diverse mix of renewable energies. As a region, we are well placed for the development of both tidal along the north coast of Caithness to wave generation off the west coast of Skye.

Both technologies have a significant role to play within the Highlands, yet our potential is so much more.”

He added: “Since the postwar developments, this region has been significant producer of green energy from hydro, with major developments like Loch Shin in Sutherland and Glen Affric near Loch Ness.

“More recently, our own Ness Hydro project has demonstrated there are still numerous opportunities for production at various scales across the region. If you add solar into the mix – and yes, we have significant potential in that too – you start to understand the wealth of opportunity our region can provide in the generation of clean electricity.”

Bremner told delegates it was vital to couple Highland’s potential for electricity generation with another natural resource the area has in abundance – water.

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He said: “We have all the ingredients for the production of green hydrogen at scale, and Highland can establish itself as a major contributor in a truly diverse and world leading mix of renewable energy production.”

Bremner also pointed to the importance of medium to long-term workforce planning, collaboration and education. He said: “Creating career paths and opportunities around a sustainable industry which provides social and economic benefits and an interaction and development around the climate agenda.

“This will allow for the development of a highly skilled workforce able to live and work within their own communities for generations to come.”

- Raymond Bremner is the leader of Highland Council