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

Brian Adam makes an excellent point that establishes that there are global connections that we have in academia and the industry, which come through to Aberdeen.

We should not forget the University of Aberdeen—its rector, who is here, would not wish us to do so. The institute for energy technologies at the university is one of the pre-eminent centres of its kind in Europe, with top-class researchers and links to, and funding from, industry. It is involved in a joint project with the UHI Millennium Institute to offer a range of courses that will be linked to the decommissioning of Dounreay. That is an important point, which was reflected in the debate last night that was led by Jamie Stone, which highlighted the research potential at Dounreay. Although I am emphasising the role that Aberdeen can play in the new institute, we are all conscious that throughout the rest of Scotland and, indeed, the United Kingdom, there are a number of centres of expertise in the energy industry.

Aberdeen's institutions are collaborating with a number of key partners in the Scottish Executive's team, and are working on maximising the involvement of our centres of excellence, such as Heriot-Watt University and the University Of Strathclyde, in the new institute. The team is keen to work with other centres of excellence in the UK, such as Imperial College. It has never been envisaged that only Aberdeen would benefit. The new institute is bound to commission research and to draw on expertise throughout Scotland, and indeed throughout the UK and the world. That is the model on which the energy ITI that is already based in Aberdeen works. Of course, we hope that our own academic institutions will be key beneficiaries, but the principle has always been that the research will be commissioned from the institution that is best placed to carry it out, wherever that institution happens to be based. It is important to recognise that Aberdeen is absolutely crucial to Scotland's efforts to play a key role in the new institute and that when we are looking for a hub and centre for the institute, where the operation is and where the strategy is developed, Aberdeen is clearly the logical place.

The Executive placed the energy ITI in Aberdeen because that is where the cluster for energy is. The same argument follows for the UK institute. As Europe's capital of energy, working with partners throughout the UK, as it already does, Aberdeen is ideally placed to make the Government's aspiration for the institute a reality. I hope that the minister can reassure us tonight that the Executive realises that. I know that the case is being made strongly by my colleagues Frank Doran and Anne Begg at Westminster, and by members from other parties, too. I hope that the minister will accept not just my view but the strongly held view of many members that the new institute should be based in Aberdeen. That is the best way of ensuring that the whole of Scotland, and all of those involved in the bid, will benefit from this exciting new initiative, which has the potential to ensure that not just Aberdeen but Scotland and the UK will be world leaders in the energy industry for decades to come.