A Western Isles enterprise - UistWind based in North Uist – was one of the award-winners when the annual Scottish Green Energy Awards took place virtually last night (Thursday 26 November) with more than 700 industry professionals coming together to celebrate online.
Organised by Scottish Renewables and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the awards celebrate the achievements of a wide range of companies and individuals involved in the renewable energy sector.
The evening was hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield and before the event began, the Highlands and Islands was already making its mark, with finalists from the region shortlisted in eight of the 13 categories.
The event was sponsored by award-winning Campbeltown-based Beinn an Tuirc gin distillery, which uses an on-site hydro-electric scheme to power the distillery. Among other sustainable and low carbon credentials, it made them a suitable partner for the event.
The first winner of the evening in the Best Community Project Category was the Heat Smart Orkney project. The scheme uses excess electricity from community-owned wind turbines to feed a smart energy system, providing affordable heat in people's homes, combatting fuel poverty.
UistWind took home the next gong for Best Engagement. Judges commended the project team for their endless drive and commitment to deliver a 1.8MW community owned wind farm project last year despite a never-ending stream of obstacles.
Lochgilphead-based Renewable Parts Ltd took the prize for the Winning the Carbon Reduction award for demonstrating commitment to cutting CO2 through the outstanding deployment of green energy technology.
Although not strictly based in the Highlands and Islands, SIMEC Atlantis are well-known in the region for the Pentland Firth MeyGen project. The team was proud to be awarded the Champion of Renewables award for their efforts in showing how much the industry has to offer.
In its first year entering the awards, success came for Alladale Wilderness Reserve, near Inverness. Dubbed Europe’s most eco-friendly hotel in 2019, it took the Sustainable Development prize for its work in delivering above and beyond good practice, making long-term enhancements to the environment and local economy.
The Young and Inspiring Award was won by James Ferguson of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Earlier this year James took home the Academic Award at the Young Professionals’ Green Energy Awards. The hydrogen research engineer is undertaking work to assess the potential of a green hydrogen economy in Orkney. Alongside this, James is also active as a STEM ambassador, giving talks and science demonstrations at local schools.
There was further success for the team at SIMEC Atlantis, when managing director, Tim Cornelius took home perhaps the most coveted accolade of the evening – the Outstanding Achievement award, which is sponsored by HIE.
Audrey MacIver, director of energy and low carbon at HIE presented Tim with his prize and said: “I could not be happier for Tim to have received this award tonight. He really is the epitome of passion and dedication to his sector, and he has done so much to put tidal energy in Scotland on an international platform.
“These awards are a major highlight in the energy calendar. Seeing the fabulous showing from our region tonight in what has been the most difficult of years is truly testament to the spirit of the Highlands and Islands.”
Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “As ever, competition for this year’s Scottish Green Energy Awards was fierce, with so many ground-breaking projects coming to life over the past twelve months.
“All but one of the categories had nominations from the Highlands and Islands, which shows the tremendous geographical spread of the renewable energy industry, and how the enormous environmental and economic benefits it brings are being felt by communities across the whole country.”