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

I was just about to speak about timescales.

As I said, the institute will be established on a hub-and-spoke model. Its board will be appointed by the end of the year, and the director will be appointed circa January 2007. Discussions about where the director will be based will start in January 2007 and are expected to be completed by next summer. It is hoped that the institute will be up and running by the second half of 2007.

I turn to Scotland's role in the process. We fully support the establishment of the institute—I hope that that reassures members. Secure, reliable and cost-effective energy is key to the sustainable development of our economy, and it is vital that the UK accelerates and broadens research activity in the energy sector and invests in the development and deployment of a wide range of modern technologies.

Scotland has a well-developed research base in energy and a number of world-class academic institutions that have a wealth of experience in energy research. There are major energy research activities in the University of Strathclyde, the University of Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews, Heriot-Watt University and the universities in the Aberdeen area in fields such as renewable energy, hydrogen fuel cells, petroleum engineering and power systems. Those universities have a track record of commercial sector involvement and strong links with people in the energy industries, many of whom are based in Scotland.

We are confident that Scotland will play a major part in the new institute. The Deputy First Minister and Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to express our full support for Scottish involvement in the institute. Rather than focusing on individual bids, the Executive has emphasised working with Scottish universities, the economic development agencies, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council and industry to develop a comprehensive and coherent bid to attract a significant proportion of the institute's research funds to centres of excellence in Scotland. We recognise Aberdeen's key role in that process.

We believe that Scotland should be fully involved in the energy technologies institute. We have put in place a work programme—which members have referred to—to develop a bid that demonstrates Scotland's capabilities in the round. Our bid will reflect the skills and expertise in the north-east, which I have referred to. The Aberdeen city and shire economic forum is contributing to the development of the bid. We are confident that such an approach will maximise Scottish involvement in the new institute.

Meeting closed at 17:44.