Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Russell Borthwick attended a reception at Holyrood this week, organised by RGU, titled Delivering the skills to achieve the energy transition.
Hosted by Audrey Nicholl MSP, the audience of MSPs, civil servants, staff from RGU & NESCOL and business leaders from the North-east and across Scotland heard from Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science of Scotland.
Professor Paul de Leeuw, Director of RGU’s Energy Transition Institute of delivered the keynote presentation based around the recent ‘Making the Switch’ report highlighting related opportunities for the North-east economy and the very real economic risks posed if we fail to grasp these and end up as place that used to be the oil & gas capital of Europe.
The report shows that currently in North-east Scotland 45,000 people are employed in the offshore energy sector, 80% of them in traditional oil & gas activities. It looks at four scenarios and the worst of these, “regional decline”, sees this figure fall by an eye-watering 17,000 by 2030. That is the price of getting this wrong.
The best case scenario, “Global Energy Hub” status, forecasts direct employment in the sector growing to 54,000, with over 60% of the jobs in renewable energy. A remarkable shift inside a decade.
These low carbon jobs are not available at scale yet, but with the right support, investment, training and timing they can be in the near future with Green Freeport status – if awarded - building on and accelerating other developments in the region like Acorn, ETZ, Aberdeen hydrogen city, Scotland’s largest solar farm and Scotwind to name just a few. In the case of the latter, 80% of the windfarms will be situated within 100 miles of Aberdeen offering huge opportunities for our world class energy supply chain.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has publicly backed the idea that Aberdeen should aim to be the net zero capital of the world but it’s a title that needs to be earned, not just assumed.
You can access the report here
A panel including Paul, Donella Beaton RGU’s Vice Principal Economic Development and chief executive of Opportunity North East Jennifer Craw then took a range of questions from the audience with the common themes being around the need for pace and timing of the transition and the need to alter the narrative around careers in the sector.