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Easter Ross PowerHouse project seeks graduate engineer for renewable energy research and development trailblazer; Multi-agency Cromarty Firth project probes floating offshore wind and green hydrogen potential


By Hector MacKenzie

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A floating offshore wind unit based in the Cromarty Firth.
A floating offshore wind unit based in the Cromarty Firth.

A TRAILBLAZING Easter Ross job opportunity is being offered to a graduate keen to probe the potential of the area's floating offshore wind and green hydrogen technologies.

The new PowerHouse in Alness is set to recruit its first member of staff to kickstart innovative applied research and development in the fields considered to offer multimillion-pound potential for the area's economy in coming years.

Plans have been unveiled for an engineering graduate to begin the task of working with the offshore wind and green hydrogen industries to identify key areas of R&D needed to support the rapid expansion in renewable projects off Scotland’s shores.

The initial placement will be for six months and will be funded by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland’s (NMIS) graduate training scheme using the National Transition Training Fund, set up as part of the Covid-19 recovery programme and is administered by Skills DevelopmentScotland (SDS).

The graduate will play a key role in coordinating a steering group to lead the development of the new PowerHouse research, development and education facility, which is to be housed at Tern House, on Alness Point Business Park.

They will work with partners, including facility hosts North Highland College UHI, NMIS, SDS and the Opportunity Cromarty Firth consortium to highlight gaps in current research and develop new joint research studies to accelerate and improve floating offshore wind and green hydrogen technologies. As well as collaborating with various academic partners to deliver Continuing Professional Development (CPD), further education, higher education and STEM level course materials and resources.

The PowerHouse will act as a specialist educational hub to provide field studies and modules on these technologies for school children, students and workers interested in the renewable energy sectors, throughout the Highlands and beyond, to ensure people across the region have the skills and experience to take advantage of these nationally significant projects being constructed in the region.

It is one of five interlinked projects central to Opportunity Cromarty Firth’s commitment to ensuring the Cromarty Firth becomes a strategic national renewable energy hub, supporting the rapid expansion in renewable projects off Scotland’s shores, with offshore wind and floating offshore wind predicted to be valued at as much as £26 billion over the next 50 years.

John Reid, chief executive of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland said: “We are delighted to be able to support this post through our graduate training scheme to help accelerate the work of the PowerHouse in enabling Scotland to capitalise on the significant opportunities from the multi-billion pound offshore wind construction projects being installed off the north and east coasts.

“The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland is all about the future of manufacturing in Scotland and skilled people are vital to us transforming the sector post-pandemic. Through our NTTF-funded Manufacturing Skills Academy programmes, we are providing people with opportunities to work with our engineers and researchers as well as manufacturers and organisations in growth areas of the economy such as net-zero.”

Dr Gary Campbell, University of the Highlands and Islands’ vice-principal for strategic developments, said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland in the PowerHouse and look forward to hosting an engineering graduate at North Highland College UHI’s campus in Alness. The University of the Highlands and Islands sees tremendous potential in the PowerHouse, which will have research and development collaboration between academia and industry at its heart.”

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, speaking on behalf of Opportunity Cromarty Firth, said: “This engineering graduate role will be the first of many that will benefit from the significant opportunities that renewable energy projects will bring to the Highland region over the coming decades. This region is at the epicentre of Scotland’s largest infrastructure construction programme for the next twenty years

“By beginning the work of the PowerHouse, the successful candidate will pave the way for a global centre of excellence which will train the highly-skilled workforce of tomorrow, from apprentices to fully-qualified technical engineers, so they can capitalise on the 50-year pipeline of work that the renewables revolution will bring to Scotland. They will also help build the technology and expertise that Scottish people and businesses will export to other countries as they decarbonise their own economies; providing export opportunities for many decades to come.”

Applications for the post have opened with a view to the six- month placement beginning on May 1. For more information, visit

https://nmis.scot/national-transition-training-fund/nmis-graduate-training/.

Related: Hydrogen hub bid fixes Cromarty Firth at heart of technology drive


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