At the first board meeting following the AGM I was honoured to accept the nomination to be chair of OREF for the coming year. I had previously held this post around 2010 and have been delighted to see the progress made by OREF itself as an organisation and the renewables participation and output for Orkney as a whole, an outcome strongly linked to OREF in terms of its objectives and activities over the last 15 years. The present position where we produce the equivalent of over 100% of our electrical demand from renewable energy sources with the majority of generation capacity in local hands is a truly remarkable achievement. I would like to pay tribute to the work of Pete Tipler and Neil Kermode as past Chairs, to the various board members and to Craig, Christina, Catriona and Frances for their professional assistance over the last while. Having laid some strong foundations for the future, over recent months the board of OREF felt that a time of consolidation was needed.
With significant political uncertainty, the on-going lack of a pathway to a new grid connection, the growing participation of the public in energy generation, the opportunities associated with electrification of energy supply, the challenges being faced by marine energy, the loss of renewables related jobs and the persistent blight of fuel poverty affecting around 50% of households the need for and roles of OREF could not be greater or clearer. So consolidation does not mean doing less, it means doing things even better. OREF has consistently been a forum for discussion and debate of relevant issues, a source of well-founded information, ideas and solutions and a rallying point when Orkney, and its renewable energy and community development potential has been put under threat. I hope and intend to ensure that OREF continues to lead and play an important role in the sustainable development of these islands and look forward to engaging the help of the board, members and collaborating partners in this endeavour.
In order to more easily engage with members and interested parties OREF meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of each month with the board meeting at 18:15 and an open meeting starting at 19:30 and finishing at 21:00 each time. I hope you can engage in these opportunities to learn about and contribute to OREF’s and Orkney’s ambitions.
Gareth Davies, OREF Chair