Energy Technologies Institute

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:12 pm on 26th October 2006.

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Photo of Richard Baker Richard Baker Labour 5:12 pm, 26th October 2006

I thank colleagues from all parties who supported the motion. Their support shows the wide recognition of the importance for the north-east of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement that the Government wishes to establish a United Kingdom-based world-leading energy and environmental research institute. That is a key decision, not only for the UK industry, but for Aberdeen and the north-east, because such an institute could help to ensure that Aberdeen, which is the centre of the energy industry in the UK, continues to be Europe's energy capital. In turn, Aberdeen, as a focus for the industry and its skills and expertise, will be essential to the new institute if it is to achieve its aims and be the success that we all want it to be.

The intention is that the institute will work in partnership with and be jointly funded by business in order to place the UK at the cutting edge of energy science and engineering. The aim is to provide the UK with a pre-eminent world-class means of delivering energy technology research that will underpin eventual deployment and which will be driven by the critical need to develop long-term sustainable and secure energy solutions. Those are key strategic aims for the UK and our energy industry. Aberdeen already makes a major contribution to achieving those aims.

The city is home to a remarkable cluster of about 900 energy-related businesses from across the spectrum of the industry, as well as being home to energy-related agencies, Government bodies and research institutes. The major energy company headquarters that are located in Aberdeen are not just UK headquarters, but global ones. Companies also base their world engineering research centres in the city. No city in the world is better connected to the global energy industry than Aberdeen. It is therefore no surprise that the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association and the Confederation of British Industry Scotland see Aberdeen as the logical location for the institute. Unions such as Amicus know that Aberdeen provides skilled workers for the energy industry throughout the world.

Aberdeen is home to the Executive-funded intermediary technology institute for energy, which already manages research and development programmes from throughout the energy spectrum—from mature oil and gas, power networks and energy storage through to renewables and clean energy. The model of the ITI, which collaborates with partners from industry, academia and the financial sector, is clearly a good one on which to base the operation of the UK institute.

Aberdeen is not just a world centre for the oil and gas industry, but is taking a lead in the developing renewables industry. The Aberdeen renewable energy group is an innovative public-private partnership that has been established to help identify and promote renewable energy opportunities for businesses in the city and its shire region. It has nearly 100 members across a range of sectors that are involved with renewable energy.

Aberdeen already has a wealth of partnership working across the whole spectrum of the energy industry. The city has academic expertise in that area through our universities; commissioning research is a central part of the proposed institute. The Robert Gordon University's energy centre offers industry-leading MSc training programs in oil and gas engineering, and houses the centre for research in energy and the environment.