Public discourse is now firmly focussed on how we rebuild our economy and address the pressing climate emergency. Whether we call this green economic recovery or build back better, it is about jobs for the future, decarbonising our key industries and creating opportunities for our people and communities.
Writing in the April edition of The Business in the Press and Journal, Sir Ian Wood KT GBE, ONE's chairman, sets out the role of the Energy Transition Zone in green economic recovery. You can read the original article here.
Practical measures to tackle these challenges were, rightly, the focus of the Chancellor's Budget Statement delivered last month. Mr Sunak pledged to create "decent well-paid green jobs" and drive the recovery from "one of the largest, most comprehensive and sustained economic shocks this country has ever faced".
It was, therefore, a massive boost for the region's net-zero ambition when the Chancellor put us front and centre of green recovery investment by announcing £27 million toward the development of the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone. The Scottish Government is equally supportive of the project and has earmarked a similar level of support for it through its Energy Transition Fund announced in June 2020.
In addition, the North Sea Transition deal, also announced by the Treasury last month, is the first of its kind by a G7 country. It is a transformative partnership that seeks to unlock up to £16 billion in investment over the next decade and harness the power of the UK offshore oil and gas industry to help the UK meet its climate ambitions of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, affordably and at pace.
The significant backing from both governments will help ensure the regional energy transition ambition becomes a reality. It is tacit recognition of our proven ability and unique position within Scotland and the UK to take advantage of this massive opportunity.
Opportunity North East (ONE) and its partners have maintained a clear ambition to transform our region into a globally recognised and integrated energy cluster, focused on accelerating towards net-zero through energy transition activities. Over the past 18 months, ONE has worked with industry and partners, Aberdeen Harbour Board and Scottish Enterprise, as well as co-operating closely with Aberdeen City Council, to provide resources to develop the Energy Transition Zone project from concept to detailed proposal - leading and making a compelling case for investment to deliver long-lasting impacts.
The scale and importance of the opportunity cannot be overstated. By 2030 we will have designed and completed the phased development of a unique Energy Transition Zone adjacent to the new harbour development at Aberdeen South Harbour. It is a ‘shovel ready’ project, with a comprehensive business case supported and endorsed by a wide range of private and public sector partners, that will create 2,500 direct jobs, a further 10,000 energy transition-related jobs across the region and create £400 million of added value. It will also spearhead an energy transition cluster across the region.
Key activities to be developed are likely to include offshore wind high value manufacturing and marshalling and assembly, a floating offshore wind centre of excellence, offshore hydrogen production landing facilities, green hydrogen test and demonstration facilities and high value manufacturing for hydrogen, facilities for trimodal refuelling and distribution, low carbon marine field test and demonstration facility, a UK clean fields meterology centre, applied R&D high value manufacturing, business incubation and scale-up, and an Energy Skills Academy Hub.
Through a world-class oil and gas industry, our region has made an invaluable contribution to the UK's energy requirements over the last 50 years. As oil and gas depletes, energy transition activities should provide much needed employment and investment in the region as part of the green recovery.
Aberdeen is, therefore, one of the most exciting and attractive locations in Europe to develop and accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies. We will become a focal point and catalyst for R&D in renewables with significant opportunities in on and offshore wind including floating wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.
Crucially, as we continue to transition from oil and gas, the Energy Transition Zone will allow us to maintain and develop a world-class renewables supply chain, drive exports and secure further green job and investment opportunities.
The North East is, quite simply, the stand-out location for this project. The unrivalled critical mass of skills, experience and infrastructure in energy means we are the best placed within the UK to deliver a world-leading transition zone.
In November this year Scotland has the privilege of hosting COP 26, a gathering of global leaders who will discuss climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. It should be a source of great pride for us all in the North East that we will soon have a significant tangible and progressive industry-led project enabling our region to make a positive impact toward the net zero outcome.
We must all work hard to realise this ambition by championing the region's contribution to economic recovery as an ideal location for domestic and global investment as we move from high carbon to a low carbon economy.
It will have by far the most significant impact on our economy for the next 30 years and is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
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