Liam McArthur MSP today visited Heriot-Watt University to meet with staff and students involved in the Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas.
The university has expanded its capacity in earth and marine sciences, of which the International Centre for Island Technology campus, based in Stromness, forms a part.
Joined by Neil Kermode of EMEC, Orkney’s MSP learned about the innovative research being carried out by the programme’s current students. Exploration of resources around Orkney is among the projects funded by a partnership of UK universities and industry.
Liam McArthur also took the opportunity to visit the university’s Oriam National Performance Centre for Sport, which is due to be completed in October 2016.
Following the visit, Liam chaired a meeting of the parliament's Cross Party Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which focused on the innovation taking place in the islands to exploit renewables resources and reduce high levels of fuel poverty. The challenges from a lack of grid capacity were also highlighted.
Commenting afterwards, Liam McArthur said:
“Today’s visit to Heriot Watt's Riccarton campus was fascinating, not least given the links with ICIT in Orkney. This is an area of considerable expansion, one involving closer collaboration between the university and private sector.
"I enjoyed meeting the post graduate students involved in joint research, which will be critical to the future of our energy sector. From all parts of the world and studying at universities across the UK, it was encouraging to see how well they are working together to identify ways in which this key sector can develop in the decades to come.
“It was also a pleasure to chair the last meeting of the CPG on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in this parliamentary session. All the more so, given its 'Spotlight on Orkney.
"As Neil Kermode highlighted in his presentation, Orkney has proved to be an innovative, living laboratory over recent times when it comes to energy. There are undoubtedly challenges we face, but with the resources and skills we have available, we have come up with solutions.
"Inevitably, the lack of grid infrastructure, featured prominently and this must be addressed. However, even here, there is growing evidence of people in Orkney rising to the challenge by identifying storage and other solutions to the grid capacity constraints."