Blue is the colour for a greener future. By Jean Morrison

The North-East of Scotland has always been well positioned to capitalise on the emerging renewable energy market with decades of experience of working in oil and gas. As a member organisation, AREG has supported many forward-thinking companies and been at the core of helping to develop projects of key economic value, resulting in hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of local renewable energy activity.

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, is now operational. The innovative 93.2MW 11-turbine offshore wind scheme, which has been developed by Vattenfall and supported by AREG from concept, is trialling next generation technology while boosting the industry’s drive for competitive clean power.

The large-scale Kincardine and Beatrice offshore wind projects are currently in development while Hywind, the world’s first floating windfarm, is now generating power off the cost of Peterhead. The region is punching above its weight in renewables and we are proud to be supporting the achievements that are being made.

Although it is largely wind power that has grown Scotland’s green energy production over the last few years, the country is also home to the first and only centre of its kind to provide developers of wave and tidal energy converters with purpose-built, accredited open-sea testing facilities.

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd in Orkney also operates two scale test sites where smaller scale devices, or those at an earlier stage in their development, can gain real sea experience in less challenging conditions than those experienced at the grid-connected wave and tidal test sites.

Blue Energy, which embraces wave, tidal and floating wind power, is seen as key to realise Europe’s energy transition goals and meet stringent climate change targets.

Using renewable sources, its ambition is to generate a flexible and interconnected energy supply system across the continent. Research has shown, based on favourable regulatory and economic conditions, that Blue Energy has the potential to meet ten per cent of the EU’s power demand by 2050.

That expectation, however, is based on determined R&D investment and unified industrial development policies across EU countries, organisations and businesses.

There’s no doubt the drive to enhance and accelerate the development of new technologies across the marine energy sector, is alive and kicking. We see it in action through our members’ commitment and activity. Such vision and efforts can now be reinforced through EU funding to develop a joint internationalisation strategy for the marine sector.

To pull together organisations and businesses in this effort, an innovative European consortium has launched The Europe Leading Blue Energy (ELBE) project. Part of the EU’s Cluster Collaboration Platform and funded by COSME, the EU programme for competitiveness, the initiative has been selected as the main representative of the energy sector. Its aim is to forge business collaboration and innovation and identify new opportunities in global markets for floating offshore windfarms, wave and tidal for the European energy supply chain.

The 18-month project, which kicked-off in Brussels earlier this year, will be implemented by a consortium of organisations, which includes AREG, Flanders’ Maritime Cluster (Belgium), Offshoreväst (Sweden), Offshoreenergy.dk (Denmark), under the co-ordination of the Basque Energy Cluster in Spain.

The partners involved represent 532 organisations, 17 Blue Energy test and demonstration centres, 24 wave energy developers, seven tidal developers and seven floating offshore wind developers.

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) is an action of the Cluster Internationalisation Programme for SMEs. The plan is to deliver a strategy for European businesses to enter global markets and create an alliance with a clear focus, which is ready to trade across the world.

AREG is playing a key role to galvanise phase one of the project. This will create new EU cross-border and cross-sectoral business alliances and identify business opportunities for SMEs in the emerging global offshore wind, wave and tidal markets. In phase two, we aim to define and launch a joint internationalisation strategy with the purpose of strengthening Europe’s position as the world technological and industrial leader in Blue Energy.

Among other activities, the project will conduct market analysis in the main non-European countries involved in marine energy developments, alliance participation in international events and the organisation of several networking and technical events among the companies of the different regions.

To ensure the long-term prosperity of our energybased economy and secure energy supplies for generations to come, the industry experience and knowledge developed in the North Sea over the past five decades is vital in creating new relationships across the world.

AREG will be hosting an event in Aberdeen at the end of October to provide companies with an opportunity to support the ELBE project. Further details will be announced soon so please get in touch at areg@bigpartnership.co.uk to find out more. This is a fantastic opportunity for our members and the wider energy community to create a new industrial sector, generate jobs, bolster the supply chain, and take advantage of export opportunities in the global marketplace.

Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group
Jean Morrison is chair of the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG). She was a Labour Councillor on Aberdeen City Council for five years before stepping down in 2017. She was awarded an MBE for her services to energy efficiency in Scotland in 2002. AREG works on behalf of its members to promote the capabilities of companies and organisations in the North East of Scotland and around the UK in the renewable energy sector, and to assist them in accessing new opportunities in this field.

For further information please visit: www.aberdeenrenewables.com