HIGHLANDS and Islands projects confirmed the region’s leading role in the renewable energy sector when they were named among the winners of the Scottish Green Energy Awards.
Normally held at a black-tie ceremony in Edinburgh, this year’s event was held online for the first time ever, with an audience of more than 800 logging on to join the live ceremony, which was hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield.
Organised by Scottish Renewables and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the awards celebrate the achievements of a wide range of companies and individuals involved in the renewable energy sector, which employs 17,700 people in Scotland.
Awards were presented in 13 categories with the winners selected by a panel of 12 judges.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve, near Ardgay, won the sustainable development award in its first year of entry. Dubbed Europe’s most eco-friendly hotel in 2019, it took the prize for its work in delivering above and beyond good practice, making long-term enhancements to the environment and local economy.
Best community project winner was the Heat Smart Orkney project. The scheme uses excess electricity from community-owned wind turbines to feed a smart energy system, providing affordable heat in people’s homes, combatting fuel poverty.
The young and inspiring award also went to a winner with an Orkney connection. Hydrogen research engineer James Ferguson of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is undertaking work to assess the potential of a green hydrogen economy in the islands.Alongside this, he is also active as a STEM ambassador, giving talks and science demonstrations at local schools.
Mr Ferguson said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award. I would like to thank EMEC for the nomination, as well as my lead supervisors, past and present.
“It is terrific to see the host of nominations in all the categories and I hope we can all work together to take responsibility for our amazing world and deliver a green energy system for Scotland – and beyond.”
Matthew Finn, EMEC’s commercial director, said: “Orkney has been at the forefront of hydrogen R&D and James’ modelling work has been instrumental in helping EMEC build a business case for a local green hydrogen economy. This has fed directly into a range of innovation projects keeping EMEC at the cutting edge. His passion for community outreach and knowledge sharing is excellent and James is first-rate in helping audiences of all ages to better understand renewables and hydrogen. EMEC has grown rapidly over the last few years and seeing experts like James develop through the company is really encouraging as we ramp up activities for the years ahead.”
SIMEC Atlantis, which is developing MeyGen project just south of Orkney in the Pentland Firth was awarded the champion of renewables award for their efforts in showing how much the industry has to offer, and managing director Tim Cornelius took home perhaps the most coveted accolade of the evening – the outstanding achievement award, which is sponsored by HIE.
The Orkneys were not alone in winning an award. UistWind based in North Uist won the best engagement title. Judges commended the project team for their endless drive and commitment to deliver a 1.8MW community owned windfarm project last year despite a never-ending stream of obstacles.
Lochgilphead-based Renewable Parts Ltd took the prize for the winning the carbon reduction award for demonstrating commitment to cutting CO2 through the outstanding deployment of green energy technology.
The event also featured a keynote address from Scotland’s finance minister, Kate Forbes MSP,highlighting the role renewable energy will play in the country’s green recovery and David Duguid MP, UK Government Minister for Scotland, presented the sustainable development award.
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to come together online as an industry to celebrate this year’s Scottish Green Energy Awards.
“Once again, those shortlisted really do showcase the truly incredible talent, passion and innovation of those working in our industry.
“In a year which has been so very challenging, the renewable energy sector has played a critical role in ensuring that Scotland’s lights have been kept on throughout the global pandemic.
“The diverse range of projects shortlisted at this year’s awards really do highlight why Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy.
“As we continue the fight against climate change we’re going to need everyone and everything we’ve got, and the phenomenal skillset and innovation of those recognised tonight absolutely shows we have what it takes.
“The Scottish Green Energy Awards are an incredible celebration of the inspirational organisations, people and projects who are making a real difference to the health, wealth and wellbeing of Scotland. My congratulations go to all off this year’s nominees, and of course winners.”
The 2020 Scottish Green Energy Awards was headline-sponsored by EDF Renewables.
EDF Renewables chief executive Matthieu Hue said: “It has been great to see everyone online for this year’s awards and my congratulations goes to all the very worthy winners and of course the runners up, I’m sure the judges had some tough choices to make.
“It has been a tough year for everyone yet as an industry it is clear we are continuing to work hard to progress towards the net zero goal.
“Let’s hope by this time next year we can all celebrate another successful year in person!”
The full list of winners is:
Best Community Project Award: Heat Smart Orkney Ltd for Heat Smart Orkney Project
Best Engagement Award North Uist Development Company for UistWind
Best Innovation Award: Rovco for SubSLAM X2
Carbon Reduction Award: Renewable Parts
Champion of Renewables Award: SIMEC Atlantis
Contribution to Skills Award: The Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Exeter and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences for the Industrial CDT in Offshore Renewable Energy
Outstanding Project Award: SWARCO and Boyd Brothers (Fauldhouse) Ltd for Dundee’s Princes Street
Outstanding Service Award: RES Operations Team
Positive Improvement Award: SafetyOn / RenewableUK for Industry Guidance
Sustainable Development Award: Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Young & Inspiring Award:James Ferguson, European Marine Energy Centre and IDCORE
Outstanding Contribution Award: Tim Cornelius, SIMEC Atlantis Energy
Judges Award: MacArthur Green