Energy Minister visits National Decommissioning Centre to mark fifth anniversary

Gillian Martin MSP meeting staff at the NDC's marine simulation suite

THE National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) has marked its fifth anniversary with a visit from Scotland’s Minister for Energy and the Environment, Gillian Martin MSP.

On her tour of the facility in Newburgh, the Minister heard how the University of Aberdeen is supporting the energy transition through research taking place at the NDC and through its Centre for Energy Transition.

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She also learned of the NDC’s achievements since its launch, including: 

  • Installation of a £1.6 million immersive marine simulation suite which offers a visually immersive environment for the virtual trialling of specific technologies and innovations in real time, under different sea and weather conditions.
  • A £252,000 partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult aimed at developing new offshore wind technologies, including the simulation of floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) systems using the marine simulation suite.
  • partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – the first of its kind between the nuclear and oil and gas decommissioning sectors – supporting research with a value of up to £900,000.
  • A recently extended anchor partnership with Chevron, funding a portfolio of research that aims to better quantify the environmental impacts of decommissioning and provide guidance on best options from an environmental perspective.

    On her tour of the facility, Ms Martin had the opportunity to use the marine simulator to manoeuvre a wind turbine out of the new Aberdeen South Harbour.

She was also told about research led by the Centre for Energy Transition, including in key areas such as offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, data and artificial intelligence and marine spatial planning.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Martin said: “Taking the opportunity to see the fantastic work which the NDC is doing to support the energy sector with Scottish Government backing has been a privilege.

“The decommissioning of fossil fuel installations is integral to the pursuit of an orderly, managed transition to net-zero. This has the potential to create benefits and opportunities for people across Scotland.

“Our focus is on creating opportunities for a highly productive and green economy, providing new jobs, embedding innovation and boosting skills.”

Professor Richard Neilson, Director NDC, added: “Since the NDC was opened five years ago we have completed 25 projects, secured more than £8m in additional funding and employed eight research staff and 15 PhD students, all of whom are making a huge contribution towards the economic development of the north-east of Scotland. 

“It is exciting to know that the expertise and technology developed here in Newburgh and used in the North Sea can be exported elsewhere in years to come, and we have been fortunate to have had great support from the Scottish and UK Governments through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, as well as from the University of Aberdeen and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC).”

Professor John Underhill, Director of the Centre for Energy Transition, added: “The NDC forms a key part of the University’s efforts to deliver research and training solutions enabling Scotland and the UK to meet net zero goals and train the next generation of energy experts.

“As a University, we are committed to skills training that will meet this aim, and we have been delighted to announce several recent initiatives including the appointment of new research fellows focused on the energy transition and our involvement in a UK-wide research group focusing on mineral resources.

“We have also been offering fully funded online study opportunities to help people upskill and reskill for the energy transition, thanks to support from the National Energy Skills Accelerator (NESA) and Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund.  

“This has proved hugely popular, further underlining the demand for quality skills training here in the north-east of Scotland as the workforce and industry adapt to net zero goals.”

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