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Shetland’s Energy Transition

Written by Tom Wills

March 23, 2021

Shetland’s Energy Transition

For anyone working in the energy industry during the past few years, the pace of change has been phenomenal: renewables that previously depended on subsidy are now the cheapest forms of generation; coal plants are shut down and the generation of electricity in Scotland is already largely decarbonised. And yet in many ways, we’re just getting started: this is particularly true for heating and transport, which are still overwhelmingly fossil-fuelled.

The coming energy revolution will make the changes to date seem minor. To stabilise the planet’s climate, we need to get to net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible – and in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods.

The net zero transition will transform everything and leave the world in a completely different place. A better place.

Shetland has its part to play in this.

When oil and gas arrived at our shores, we grasped the opportunity with both hands and were smart with our demands. Many jobs were created and wealth was invested back into our communities, creating a legacy that has lasted decades, supporting generations of Shetlanders.

Now new low carbon industries are knocking at the door and we must be smarter and even more demanding this time round. Jobs and investment must arrive – and we must ensure that everyone in Shetland has a warm home that’s affordable to heat while we’re at it.

If elected, I will fight for local job creation, increased local content in the supply chain and ways of maximising the benefits of future energy projects to Shetland.

We need targeted training to help workers in the oil and gas sector move into renewables and low carbon technologies. I would work hard with our local colleges to create an energy upskilling program that ensures the energy workers of today can secure the good, green, local jobs of tomorrow.

I am also committed to ensuring that we learn from places like Norway to maximise the level of local content and community or public ownership in any future energy projects here. The UK’s obsession with privatisation and deregulation has left British citizens seriously short-changed. Between 1964 and 2016, Norway generated £381bn more than the UK government in tax revenues, despite producing 5% less oil and gas. This was an ideological choice – and it’s one that we can avoid in the future

Above all, my priority would be to make sure that the energy transition is a fair one that benefits Shetland.