Weekly update, 24th November 2014

Energy & Business services:

Delighted to meet up this week with Dan Pearson of the MeyGen project as he gave an update on progress with the project to Caithness Councillors in Wick. It was good to hear that contracts for onshore works are now in place, and that works will be taking place over the winter at the onshore site near Gills. As reported last week the MeyGen project was well represented at the 5th International Tidal Awards event in London. Atlantis Resources Ltd won the award for “Outstanding Industry Achievement”; MeyGen won for “Best Project”; and sub-contractor Mojo Maritime won for “Best Technological Innovation”. The awards were held as part of the International Tidal Energy Summit, which has been held in London for the past seven years, and has been a very useful platform to raise awareness of opportunities in the tidal sector in the north. More information is at https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20141127125952-143598904-2014-tidal-today-award-winners  

There was bad news for the wave sector last week with Pelamis Wave Power calling in administrators. The company, which has been developing plans for a demonstration site at Farr Point off the North Sutherland coast, employed a number of staff at its Edinburgh base. This week Fergus Ewing MSP, the Scottish Government Energy Minister, announced the creation of a new body focused on the wave industry. Wave Energy Scotland will bring together “the best engineering and academic minds to collaborate on innovative projects that will accelerate the development of wave technologies.” The new body will be funded through Scottish Government, and is expected to be administered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. You can view a fact sheet on Wave Energy Scotland at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00464410.pdf

Enabling activities:

Transport Scotland held a public exhibition yesterday (Wednesday) on its latest plans for the re-alignment of the A9 at Berriedale. You can view the Scottish Government’s Draft Road Order plans and supporting documents at http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/project/a9-berriedale-braes-improvement-scheme and also at Highland Council Service Points in Wick and Thurso as well as Dunbeath Post Office  until 16th January 2015.

CNSRP partner the NDA ran a public exhibition this week in Wick to update on progress with the Nuclear Archive project, and a team was on hand at the Pulteney Centre in Wick to answer questions on progress to date and plans for the remaining planning and build-out phases. The project is now progressing towards a completion date in late 2016.

It’s great to see the continuing innovation being shown at High School level in Caithness. This week Wick High School students have been in the news again, being hailed as having held probably the first “wearable technology” competition in Scotland. Last week’s Dragons’ Den competition saw teams of students working to produce an app using either Google Glass eyeware, or Samsung Gear 2/  Pebble smartwatches. The school has a fantastic track record of introducing students to innovative technologies, and under teacher Chris Aitken’s leadership and guidance has reached the finals (and won) UK-wide competitions for app-building. You can learn more at http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/8172/north_school_leads_in_wearable_technology_innovation and view the teams’ presentations at http://www.wickhighschool.org/index.php/documents-and-policies/files?folder=Departments/Computing/Wearable%20Tech%20Dragons%20Den%202014 It is also good to see the spirit of innovation alive and well at the Young Enterprise competition held at last week’s North Highland Regeneration Fund AGM, at which local judges heard pitches from teams representing Wick High School, Thurso High School and North High;land College.

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • Scottish Provincial Press has published its latest “Energy North” supplement, which is issued with this week’s SPP titles in the Highlands (including the John O’Groat Journal, Northern Times, Ross-shire Journal and Inverness Courier). It includes a good interview with CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver by “Energy North” Editor Alan Hendry. I also contributed one of a regular series of articles: this one looking back over 2014’s activities and looking forward to what we might expect in 2015.