Boris Johnson's perfect opportunity to position UK as 'global centre' for renewable energy

The Orkney Islands boast an abundance of renewable electricity, and have pioneered new ways to make use of the surplus on windy days. The archipelago off the coast of Scotland negates this waste of electricity by producing hydrogen through electrolysis to store the energy which can be used at a later date for heat, power, fuel for use as low carbon transport or for any other purpose. Mr Johnson visited the Orkney Islands last month on a trip which included several engagements such as visiting businesses hit by coronavirus, those working in green energy and military personnel.

But, sustainability expert and founder of the Virtual Island Summit, James Ellsmoor, thinks the Prime Minister missed a trick by not doing more to show off the island’s potential to the world.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “Boris had a trip to the Orkney Islands a few weeks ago.

“I work quite a lot with Orkney and various organisations there and there are some really amazing cutting-edge projects.

“There are people from all over the world who are interested in learning how Orkney is approaching renewables.

“I feel like that wasn’t covered enough during Boris’ trip – they just focused on taking photos of him holding massive crabs.”

 Mr Johnson’s trip to Orkney came after the Government announced a new £100million investment into the Western Isles, Orkney and the Shetlands.

 The Scottish and UK governments are both set to provide up to £50million in investment as part of the Islands Growth Deal over the next 10 years.

 Tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy and skills will be targeted for funding.

Mr Ellsmoor, who has worked and travelled in over 60 countries, consulting government leaders on topics relating to energy and climate change, believes the Prime Minister’s trip was the perfect opportunity to showcase how the investment could make the UK a “global centre” for renewable energy.

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It presents such a huge opportunity to the UK as no country is currently grabbing its potential with both hands, Mr Ellsmoor added. 

He said: “I don’t think any one country is doing everything right, but there are some good examples of countries heading in the right direction.

“Where the action tends to be happening is on a local level – while the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement, certain cities and states are stepping up to make their own legislation.

“So even within countries it’s complicated.

“I know there have been several cities that have made goals in the UK, but I’m not sure how binding they are.

“What is interesting is lots of small island states in different parts of the world may know their emissions are pretty negligible on the global front, but they are trying to lead by example.”

The Virtual Island Summit 2020, hosted by Island Innovation, will kick off on Monday, September 7, and will see a diverse range of views from 10,000 people attending from more than 250 island communities including in the Arctic, Caribbean, Europe, Indian Ocean, Pacific Islands, South America and beyond.

 It is free to register and speakers range from community leaders to the Prime Minister of Fiji and the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse.

The Summit uses modern technology to maximise opportunities for participation and minimise harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

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