Windfarm in the Highlands of Scotland

Energy in the Highlands

Much has changed since the discovery of rich oil and gas reserves off the coast of Scotland. Not least the discovery of even richer and more sustainable sources of energy.

The Highlands and Islands’ geographical position, with its expanse of coastal waters, strong waves and tides, makes it one of the best locations in Europe for spearheading offshore wind, wave and tidal power. Meanwhile onshore wind, hydro-electric and biomass schemes are powering local communities.

Pioneering the alternative energy revolution

Overall, the region is fast emerging as a world leader in the development and production of renewable energy. It has already amassed a strong, knowledgeable supply chain of complementary companies that can conceive, devise, test, manufacture, install, operate, distribute and support renewable energy technology - from research to full-scale commercial implementation. Here are just some of the many initiatives pioneering this exciting new sector:

  • The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) based in Orkney, where developers from all over the world are able to test prototype wave and tidal devices in ideal conditions;
  • High above the southwestern tip of Loch Ness, the UK’s largest hydro scheme for 30 years is in place at Glendoe;
  • At Invergordon, Northern Ireland-based Balcas has created a multi-million pound combined heat and power (CHP) plant and wood fuel factory;
  • The region is home to the world’s first deepwater offshore wind farm situated 25km off the east coast of Caithness. At 85m high and a result of a 41 million euro public-private partnership, the turbines are the tallest in the world and are estimated to generate 30% of the nearby Talisman Beatrice oil platforms' electricity requirement.

Several hundred other businesses across the Highlands and Islands are active in the renewables industry, including electrical installers, crane hire, haulage, civil engineering, environmental consultants and many more. These projects and companies contribute to a healthy, dynamic supply chain, which in turn lends itself to economic growth and employment across the region.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the Scottish Government's economic development agency for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. With a unique remit, combining economic and community development, we have a key role to play in delivering the Government’s strategic objectives to make Scotland wealthier and fairer; smarter; healthier; safer and stronger; and greener. We work closely with Scottish Development International (SDI) to promote the region's assets and advantages to inward investors from around the globe.

We can support you with almost every aspect of the decision-making process, whether it’s finance or IT, finding suitable premises or staff recruitment, product development or marketing. You’ll have a dedicated team to work with you every step of the way, both before and after you’ve made the move - helping your business get up and running quickly and to build strong foundations for growth and development.


The explore programme provides news, case studies, supply chain industry database, and details about the growing energy industry in the Highlands and Islands...

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