The threat posed to rural economies was starkly highlighted this week when a survey conducted by Orkney businesses, predicted some 3,000 local jobs may be lost, and the amount of money flowing through the local economy could be almost halved, if the worst impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are realised.
“Investment in green-energy projects is crucial to Scotland’s economic recovery post COVID-19.”
Prof. David Flynn of the Smart Systems Group is now calling on the UK and Scottish governments to prioritise investment in future, green energy projects as a way of securing jobs, particularly in rural locations.
“The rural economy is far more susceptible to fluctuations in technology and financial markets. What is evidenced in the current crisis is we are seeing primary industries such as tourism, become decimated.”
“The rural economy is dependent on agriculture, tourism and energy, the three pillars as I see them. What I am suggesting is investment in community energy projects, creates local jobs, supports the UK supply chains and unlocks wealth from the energy infrastructure for the community.”
Professor Flynn’s comments follow the publication of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery Report. The document, written by Professor Benny Higgins, Group Chair and Special Advisor to the First Minister on the Scottish National Investment Bank, makes a series of recommendations including a need for Scotland to make better use of its world leading universities and create more effective public-private partnerships.
Professor Flynn is the academic lead in the pioneering ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) project currently being trialled in Orkney. Launched in April 2019, the ambitious £28.5 million programme funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, aims to create the world’s first large scale ‘smart local energy system’ by combining technology with renewable energy to provide intelligent heat, power and transport services to islanders.
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