Scotland’s expertise in renewable power generation now worth billions



Aberdeen-based SBS Group have just announced a £21 million contract to help deliver Indonesia’s first large tidal-energy scheme. It will be a 150MWh project worth £409 million in total.

However, encouraging this is, and it is, it’s not a new trend. See this from the Aberdeen Evening Express on 12th December 2016:

‘Scotland’s “expertise in renewable energy” is in demand around the world, with businesses working in more than 40 countries, according to new research. Projects include advising the government of Japan, providing cranes to build wind farms in Morocco and South Africa and working with the World Bank in Chile, industry body Scottish Renewables said.’

Later, in June 2017, I wrote:

‘It’s not just the oil and gas exports that make the money now. After decades of experience gained in the North Sea and in west of Shetland’s deeper stormier waters, Scotland now earns just over half of its income from international business supplying equipment and expertise across the globe….The survey producing the £11.4 billion figure was carried out by Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce for Scottish Enterprise and had responses from 295 companies employing 63 000 staff.’

Since then, I’ve reported several individual cases including:

Scotland’s expertise in subsea development is recognised by deal with Japan

Scotland’s renewables expertise continues to earn millions.

Taiwan comes to Scotland for offshore renewables inspiration

We can add Taiwan and Indonesia to the list without a survey but it’s clearly time for another survey by Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce.


10 thoughts on “Scotland’s expertise in renewable power generation now worth billions

  1. Alasdair Macdonald October 12, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    If you take a longer historic perspective, this kind of thing is a re-run of the innovative approach of the 18/19/20th centuries when industrial expertise developed in Scotland was exported around the globe. The cliche of the Scottish engineer parodied in Mr Scott of Star Trek has a fair basis in fact. Shipbuilding, locomotives and related services, for example were exported to all parts of the globe. In the Paisley City of Culture bid there is archive footage of the way weaving technology from Paisley was used in Asia and South America, for example.

    The book, “How Scots Invented the Modern World” explores some of this. Now, Now, we have to avoid the hubris of the ‘here’s-tae-us,-wha’s-like-us?’ exceptionalism, but the ‘too wee, and no very good’ trope beloved of unionists simply does not stand up. Given a relatively level playing field, we can be as innovative, creative, entrepreneurial as anywhere else. However the City and Westminster rigs the market. The British Empire rigged the markets against indigenous peoples in India, in Africa, China, South America and Imperial USA rigs the markets in favour of itself.

    There probably is something in the centres of excellence argument. The rise of Glasgow as an industrial power was due to a coincidence of a number of circumstances – an educational centre (Glasgow University), the presence of coal and ironstone, water/a river, the Protestant reformation, the ‘discovery’ of America, trade winds, etc. From this came the Industrial Revolution. Once things become established in a place it becomes a centre of excellence. Oil and Gas and Aberdeen have probably created a similar centre of excellence. Eventually new technologies elsewhere overtake these older centres, but, often the older centres retain aspects which enable them to reinvent themselves, provided they are not hindered.

    I recall a lecture, Susan Calman’s feyther, the redoubtable Sir Kenneth, gave in which he traced the evolution of western medicine through centres of excellence from Montpelier (which had learned it from the Arabs) though Bologna, Leyden, Glasgow/Edinburgh and Oxford to the United States. Montpelier, Bologna, Leyden, Glasgow/Edinburgh and Oxford have not become backwaters; they are still centres of innovative work, but they do not have the pre-eminence they once had. The academics, the entrepreneurs, etc have homes and roots in these places and are happy to remain there and continue to be innovative, but some of their students and family have moved elsewhere and have planted the ideas and technology in potentially fruitful places. So, places which have, historically been creative often retain that potential to be creative, because of this social inertia. I do not mean ‘inertia’ in the pejorative, lazy sense, but simply that the people have put down roots in these places and are enjoying it. Sir Ian Wood, for example could live in many places (and probably has houses in these places!) but he is an Aberdonian and he is defined by the place. By continuing to live in the area he and his associates help sustain the economy. I am not saying that it all depends on a few ‘great men’, but rather that a sense of place is particularly important in the human psyche.

    We know the reasons why so much of Scotland is sparsely populated – because a few freebooters chased the people away, and created lies about these indolent people and their resistance to ‘improvement’. This is where the lie/myth of ‘too wee and no very good’ comes from.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. macgilleleabhar October 12, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    May I go slightly off topic but still relevant.
    I today’s Press and Journal tucked away at the bottom of page 17 there is a small article on,

    “Scottish Government ” ( note not SNP Government) plans to to set up a publicly – owned energy firm to provide lower cost power have been welcomed by regulators. Dermot Nolan,chief executive of Ofgem ,said he would “welcome any form of potential new energy ” into into the energy market.”

    Looks as if Douglas Fraser’s article on the BBC web site is a wee bit on the existing suppliers side or the Jackie Baillie side.


  3. Ludo Thierry October 12, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    Hi John, Hi all.

    Good spot Mac re. Douglas Fraser’s problem with so much Jackie B. pouring from his keyboard. Might I raise the tone once again by commenting on David Mundell’s acute wind problem being somewhat relieved this morning?

    Yes – Mundell’s Westminster tory Govt have finally succumbed to the relentless logic of the argument made by the SNP Scottish Govt (with the ante raised considerably following a joint report commissioned by both Govts in 2013) identifying the wind generation potential of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles (see below):

    A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could supply around 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

    Up to £557 million of support will be available for future Contracts for Difference auctions with wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland able to apply for the first time, the UK government has confirmed. (Next power auction round due in Spring 2019).

    Scottish Renewables welcomed the clarity provided by the announcement but said it is “disappointing” that no commitment has been made to allow onshore wind and solar PV to compete for contracts.

    Scottish government energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
    “What the industry and investors need more than anything is certainty. So, while today’s news – especially the welcome confirmation regarding the intention to support remote island wind, for which we have long pushed – is an important step, we will need more detail on how these funds will be deployed.

    Well done Fluffy – you’ll feel a whole lot better after that big push forward.

    Cheers, Ludo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ludo Thierry October 12, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Hi John – sorry to go a bit off topic but there is a result today of a case in the High Court down south that could have quite a lot of ramifications for the press in Scotland and rUK. Hope it’s OK if I outline a couple of points?

    The Leveson proposals suggested that The Press should sign up to regulators that operated certain standards.

    There was to be a stick and a carrot for those who signed up.

    The stick = low cost arbitration (see below):

    To understand it you have to look at one of the key recommendations of Lord Leveson – arbitration. Anyone who feels their reputation has been unfairly damaged by a newspaper article has at the moment only one legal route for compensation, the libel court.

    For most people this is simply too expensive and too risky to contemplate. Arbitration is a low-cost and quicker alternative to going to the High Court.

    Section 40 says if either newspaper or complainant refuses to take the option of arbitration they will have to pay costs in a High Court case even if they win. Britain’s main newspaper owners have been resisting this being signed into law.

    The carrot = arbitration: If a rich and powerful individual or organisation threatens a journalist with a libel writ then arbitration offers a low-cost escape route from a ruinously expensive court case.

    The great british (britnat) press refused to play ball with any Leveson-compliant regulator and instead set up IPSO. IPSO represents approx 90% of the UK press. Sounds pretty impressive except for the fact that this means it represents about a dozen mega-wealthy, neo-con reprobates.

    In October 2016 a Leveson-compliant regulator was given recognition – it is called Impress (see below):

    IMPRESS is a Leveson-compliant regulator and is currently the only organisation that has applied for recognition by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). The PRP was set up at arm’s length by the Government in response to Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations. IMPRESS was recognised by the PRP on 25 October 2016 as the first independent press regulator in the UK. The Chair of the PRP, Dr David Wolfe has said: ‘The Panel works in the public interest by supporting and promoting a free press in a free and fair society.’

    (Interestingly The Ferret (Scottish based) – probably known to many readers here – was among the very first press organisations to sign up to regulation by Impress)

    The press proprietors (those handful of mega-wealthy neo-cons) trade organisation, the News Media Association, took court action to try and prevent Impress being recognised. The decision was given today:

    The News Media Association (NMA), which represents publishers, said the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which was set up under a royal charter after the Leveson inquiry, should not have given Impress formal approval a year ago.

    The NMA said the PRP had misinterpreted and misapplied the charter, but Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Popplewell, sitting in London, rejected its case on Thursday.

    The chairman of Impress, Walter Merricks, said: “This judgment shows that the system of externally verified self-regulation, recommended by Sir Brian Leveson, is fully functional.

    “We can now get on with the important job of upholding high standards of journalism.

    “At a time when the news publishing industry is under massive pressure, Impress is uniquely able to reduce publishers’ legal risks and enhance their standing in the eyes of audiences and advertisers.

    “We are grateful for the ongoing support of the NUJ, Sir Harry Evans and many others in and around the industry, and sorry that the NMA have wasted so much time attacking Impress, which meets the standards that they refuse to meet.”

    Campaign group Hacked Off welcomed the court decision, claiming it dealt “a further blow to the corporate press industry’s campaign to resist the Leveson reforms.”

    Hacked Off joint executive director Dr Evan Harris said: “Victims of press abuse now call upon newspapers to take advantage of the effective independent regulation offered by Impress, secure in the knowledge that its recognition by the PRP was legitimate and lawful, and that the post-Leveson system is here to stay.

    Should any Westminster govt actually sign off section 40 then this stuff really will matter a lot. we’ll not hold our breath though.

    Ta, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

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