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BEST FOR MOST TALK: Renewable Energy and Sustainable Rural Development: Magnus Davidson

Thursday 24 October 2019


“Let’s carry out the energy program!” Soviet poster, 1978

The Highlands of Scotland have been shaped by different energy resources and energy industries over centuries. Once powered by wood and peat the region has seen various energy revolutions from hydro power, nuclear energy, the oil and gas industry, through to today’s renewable energy sector. Each industry has had a different influence on the Highlands and this talk will explore the social and economic impacts of individual technologies as well as the wider energy sector on the region.

In this time of ‘climate emergency’ the Highlands are found to be Scotland’s renewable power house, providing over a quarter of Scotland’s renewable electricity, and dwarfing any other regions’ contribution to Scotland’s electricity mix. Although getting to this point has often proved controversial we will explore some of the social and environmental issues seen across the Highlands to date.

Benefits have been realised and benefits have been lost and this discussion will attempt to explore how and why this has happened. It is clear that an impact has been seen on the Highlands over the last century and exploitation of new offshore resources will increase exposure to new industrial development. Looking back through history will be needed to inform our Highland energy future.


Magnus Davidson is a researcher with the Environmental Research Institute which is part of North Highland College UHI. His research looks at exploring the interactions between the environment, the economy, and society. Much of his work has centred on renewable energy in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.