Statkraft and UHI join forces for skills report to deliver major Loch Ness hydropower project

Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, has announced it will provide support to the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to allow it to gain early insight into the education and skills requirements for training up a local workforce to help build a consented pumped storage hydro project in the Highlands.

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Donald Weir, Loch na Cathrach Project Director; Shona Clyne, Head of Economic Development, UHI; and Iain Robertson, Head of Statkraft, Scotland at Inverness Townhouse. Credit, Trevor Martin

The project, originally known as Red John, and recently renamed Loch na Cathrach, to better reflect the history of the area, will capture excess renewable energy, and store it until needed, providing security of supply as Great Britain’s electricity network shifts away from fossil fuels.

The 450MW scheme, first conceived in 2015, was granted consent by Scottish Government ministers in June 2021.

Funding from Statkraft will enable UHI to develop an accurate picture of the numbers and types of roles required to construct the project. It is intended that this report will benefit everyone who lives and works in the region and will help to inform senior pupils and UHI students, as they look to the future and decide their career pathways. It will also provide those already in employment with a picture of where the upskilling and reskilling opportunities exist.

It is hoped that the report will allow existing local businesses to gain visibility of the construction pipeline and help those who might see an opportunity to expand, or start new businesses, to meet the increased demand a significant project like this will bring.

The study will also inform education delivery across the region. By evaluating the current scale and composition of the local student population, UHI can begin to map education provision across the board, relevant to the project’s timings and the required skills and qualifications needed to fill core roles.

Through identifying any gaps between the skills offered by the current workforce, and those required to deliver the Loch na Cathrach project, the report will provide early recommendations for addressing identified gaps through education, training, and strategic partnerships. It is intended that work on the study will begin in spring, with a final report published by UHI in the summer.

Iain Robertson, Head of Statkraft Scotland, said: “This report will provide an essential picture of the skills required to build Statkraft’s most significant project in Scotland. I’m delighted we’re able to build on our existing relationship with UHI to help them deliver this important piece of work, which will benefit students, businesses, and communities alike."

Alison Wilson, Director of Economic Development and Advancement, from UHI, said: “Statkraft are one of our key industry partners and as such we’re really pleased to be working with them once again on a report like this. This funding will help us plan for future education provision, to ensure it continues to be closely aligned with the needs of key sectors and our industry partners across the region.”