The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has been named a key delivery partner for the Islands Growth Deal, set to unlock £335 million of investments over the next 10 years, and will lead the development of the Islands Centre for Net Zero business case.

Illustration (Courtesy of EMEC/Copyright Alstom)
Illustration (Courtesy of EMEC/Copyright Alstom)

A £100 million investment in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides was agreed on 3 March 2021, as representatives of the UK and Scottish governments joined the Leaders of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council, and Shetland Island Council to sign the Heads of Terms for the Islands Growth Deal.

The Islands Growth Deal will capitalise on the islands’ unique assets with an investment of £50 million each from the Scottish and UK governments and an anticipated £235 million from project partners.

The 10-year programme of investment has the ambitious target of creating up to 1,300 jobs and tackling the depopulation concerns facing many parts of the three island archipelagos.

EMEC is a key delivery partner for the Islands Growth Deal, and will lead the development of the Islands Centre for Net Zero business case.

Matthew Finn, Commercial Director at EMEC said: “This is an important milestone for the Islands Growth Deal which cements the Islands’ place as unique ‘living laboratories’ for global innovation in low carbon technologies, harnessing resources, expertise and skills across the three island groups.

“EMEC is delighted to be spearheading the Islands Centre for Net Zero working with a team of organisations based in the islands and we look forward to sharing more details later in the year”.

The multi-million pound investment will be shared across a number of projects that aim to support growth in key sectors of opportunity like tourism and creative industries, sustainable communities and transition to low carbon future.

Aside from the creation of Islands Centre for Net Zero, other supported low-carbon initiatives include Scapa Flow Future Fuels Hub Project, Outer Hebrides Energy Hub, Shetland Clean Energy Project, and Dales Voe Ultra Deep Water Port.

All partners are now working towards the development of full business cases for approval by both governments, with the anticipation of funding being approved and released from 2022/23 onwards.

Commenting on the Islands Growth Deal announcement, Ben Miller, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “We welcome today’s signing of the Islands Growth Deal between the UK and Scottish governments, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and Shetland.

“We know that Scotland’s rural communities are best placed to harness our country’s abundant renewable energy resources and all three of these remote island groups have already demonstrated ground-breaking low-carbon innovation.

“The £16.5 million funding for the joint Islands Centre for Net Zero will not only help accelerate the islands transition to a zero-carbon energy system but also create new jobs and bring enormous investment to the local economy.

“Investment in the Dales Voe Ultra-Deep Water Port project for oil and gas platform decommissioning will also open up opportunity for the offshore renewable sector which is set to grow over the next decade.

“Green hydrogen is set to play a key role in our future energy system and investment of up to £5 million in the Shetland Clean Energy Project and £11 million for the Outer Hebrides Energy Hub will help develop hydrogen production from the islands’ wind and marine resources, reducing carbon emissions and providing opportunities for business development and skilled islands-based employment.

“It’s also great to see a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund for capital co-investment in new low-carbon hydrogen production announced today as part of the UK government’s Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy”.

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