Charles Gamble: Research and development key to progress

MUCH has been made of the Scottish Government’s laudably ambitious renewables target. With last year’s interim 31 per cent target having been met, we are on track for 100 percent by 2020, as planned.

Yet there is a risk that despite such early success, we may struggle to attain the truly low-carbon society that is possible.

The recipe for success calls for bold and innovative thinking, combined with the political will and sustained commercial investment to build a renewables industry that can generate sufficient clean energy at the least possible cost.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet barriers to the innovation required remain a cause for concern. Statistics released in November by Scotland’s Chief Statistician showed that between 2009 and 2010 expenditure on manufacturing research and development decreased by 9.2 per cent in real terms. This is worrying because there are few immediate signs that levels of private-sector R&D investment will substantially increase in the year ahead.

My company designs and supplies novel generators for wind turbines. Our pioneering technology will significantly decrease the cost of wind energy .

The company simply would not exist were it not for world-leading research undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, combined with the investment required to commercialise that academic groundwork.

That’s why First Minister Alex Salmond is to be congratulated on his recent visit to Abu Dhabi to sign a ground-breaking deal on renewables. The landmark agreement will see Scottish universities working with renewables giant Masdar to produce new wind, wave, tidal and solar energy technologies.

If, as has been suggested, the deal sees Scottish R&D projects tapping into Abu Dhabi’s massive financial resources, then bring it on.

The net result can be a flourishing of the technical innovation needed to take Scottish firms’ home-grown solutions to national and international energy needs, off the drawing board and into production.

Charles Gamble is chief marketing officer of NGenTec, an Edinburgh-based company that is a spin-out from Edinburgh University.