Energy Technologies Institute

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:35 pm on 26th October 2006.

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Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour 5:35 pm, 26th October 2006

Very much so. I am sure that the member is familiar with the series of roadshows that ITI Energy is undertaking to promote the opportunities for Scottish organisations to become involved in the projects that it has commissioned by becoming a licensee or supply-chain provider or by investing directly, for example. ITI Energy provides opportunities, not least for the companies that Brian Adam mentioned in an intervention, such as the major electricity generators in Scotland, which are not headquartered in Aberdeen.

Another innovative partnership—the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group—has successfully brought together energy businesses, research institutes, consultancies and economic development agencies to identify and promote new renewable energy opportunities for north-east Scotland. The group is involved in assessing the feasibility of an offshore wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen—members will be familiar with that project—and in developing the energy futures centre and accelerating the transfer of oil and gas expertise to the renewables industry. That knowledge transfer is an important part of the process.

All that activity shows why Aberdeen is—rightly—considered the energy capital of Europe. There is no doubt that considerable expertise exists in the north-east and that it has the potential to make a significant contribution to the proposed energy technologies institute.

Members—not least Shiona Baird, who I thought had a bit of a warped impression of what we propose—will probably find it helpful if I briefly explain the aims of the energy technologies institute, how it will be established, the timescales and, most important, what we are doing to ensure that Scotland is fully involved from the outset.

In partnership with the private sector, the UK Government intends to establish a world-leading scientific institute to help the UK to tackle future energy challenges. Research and development are fundamental to facing the challenges that we identified in the energy white paper and reiterated in the energy review. Those challenges are to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases—something I would have thought Shiona Baird would welcome—to address the decline in the UK's indigenous energy supplies and to modernise the UK's energy infrastructure.

The institute's remit will be to accelerate the development of secure, reliable, cost-effective, low-carbon energy technologies towards commercial deployment. That is a fundamental objective if we are to meet our wider social and economic policy objectives. The institute will support specific industrially relevant projects to develop both small-scale and large-scale energy supply technologies, projects to develop a mix of energy technologies to increase security and diversity of supply, projects to increase the efficiency of energy use, projects to develop sustainable transport fuels and transport management technologies, projects to develop energy infrastructure and supply technologies, and projects to alleviate energy poverty through the provision of secure clean energy to our poorest communities. I would have thought that we would all subscribe to those objectives, but it is obvious that not all of us do.

The institute will have £1 billion of funding for the next 10 years. Half of that money will be provided by the UK Government and half will be provided by private sector partners. The point that four of the world's largest energy companies—E.ON UK, Shell, EDF Energy and BP—have already expressed support for the initiative has been mentioned.

The institute will be established on a hub-and-spoke model. The director's office will form the hub, and the spokes will be centres of excellence located in various academic and scientific institutions in the UK. Most of the institute's research activity will take place in the spokes.