Energy Technologies Institute

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:24 pm on 26th October 2006.

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Photo of Nanette Milne Nanette Milne Conservative 5:24 pm, 26th October 2006

Richard Baker is to be warmly congratulated on his timely introduction to the Scottish Parliament of a debate on a subject of immense importance to Scotland's future prosperity.

In September, when the Government announced the setting up of a UK energy technologies institute, the CBI stated that such an institute

"has the potential to establish the UK as a world leader in energy technology research. It will help build a critical mass of R&D activity in an area that has great commercial as well as environmental potential across the globe."

If the bid to locate the institute in Scotland is successful, Scotland will rightly be able to claim that it is the best small country in the world, in the energy field at least.

Aberdeen has been at the forefront of the energy industry for 30 years. From its experience of extracting oil and gas from the very difficult environment of the North sea, a wealth of knowledge and technology has been developed, exported globally, and applied to other sources of energy, so that today Aberdeen is as well known for renewables as it is for oil and gas.

As Richard Baker said, Aberdeen is home to an amazing cluster of energy-related businesses and research institutes, and collaboration among Aberdeen's two universities, other Scottish universities and possibly even Imperial College, London is already under way. As we have heard, the ITI for energy is situated in the city, and Renewables UK is based in the DTI's Aberdeen office, clearly indicating the links between renewables and the oil and gas sectors.

Technology developed by the North sea oil industry is being put to use in the developing Moray firth wind farm project, Pelamis was developed in Scotland, biomass is increasingly contributing as a source of energy in the north-east, and hydrogen capture techniques are being developed nearby.

The energy sector in Aberdeen is a major contributor to the country's economy. To put it into context, an industrial sector that employs around 40,000 people in Aberdeen is equivalent to one that employs 630,000 people in the London area—the equivalent, I am told, of nine Heathrow airports. Furthermore, this year's business gateway international study has shown that 41 per cent of exporters in the North sea oil and gas sector have international activities valued at more than £1 million and that international business accounts for at least a third of their turnover.

Getting the energy technologies institute into Scotland would provide an unparalleled opportunity for our country. Richard Baker has clearly laid out the compelling reasons why it should be situated in Aberdeen. I am delighted that his words were endorsed earlier this week by CBI Scotland, which gave its unequivocal support to Aberdeen's case when it appealed to politicians at Westminster to support the city and help it to secure its position as Europe's energy capital.

Work on preparing Scotland's final bid for the institute is well advanced. I hope that the minister will agree that there are compelling reasons for considering Aberdeen as its location. I hope that he will add his support to Aberdeen's case, as have the CBI and other significant industrial and academic players in the energy sector.