More than 10 years have passed since David Rodgers first became part of Scotland’s quest to harness its environment for a wind power revolution in northern Britain.
At the time, Mr. Rodgers was embroiled in a bitter legal battle with billionaire Donald Trump, who described the proposed turbines as “ruthless monsters” that would ruin tourism in one of his Scottish golf resorts.
Now, in his role as Chairman of the Aberdeen Renewables Energy Group, Mr. Rodgers has a lot to smile about.
Despite Mr Trump’s objections, the £ 150 million project went ahead and was just the beginning of Aberdeen’s ambitious green energy plans.
Mr Rodgers is now involved in realizing Aberdeen’s dream of becoming Europe’s renewable energy capital.
“I’ve worked in town for 35 years,” he told The National.
“I started in the public sector and have seen how things work in both the public and private sectors. I got into the energy industry in 1993 and have been closely associated with the energy world ever since.
“I was involved in Aberdeen’s first offshore wind farm. That was a new concept for the city back then.
“Now I can see firsthand how Aberdeen, with its innovations and achievements, builds on 50 years of oil and gas heritage and how it delivers it.”
Mr Rodgers was at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this week to showcase the region’s hard work.
“I am really proud of Aberdeen and full of hope for the future. We have developed strong references for wind farms and we can share that with the world at Cop26, ”he said.
“We have 50 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, and the world needs these skills to create such developments.
“I spent my time at Cop26 communicating the ambitions and opportunities of the Northeast in the future of the energy transition and what we have to offer.”
His visit coincides with a new report from KPMG identifying Aberdeen’s wind farm potential as key to Europe achieving its net zero target by 2050.
The study on the oil and gas transition came to the conclusion that in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, Europe must increase its offshore wind capacity from 23 gigawatts today to up to 450 gigawatts, with half of this capacity to be installed in the North Sea.
Aberdeen has built the world’s first floating wind farm and TotalEnergies announced that the city has been selected as the global hub for its offshore wind operations.
“We need transition companies to enter the net-zero world,” Rodgers said.
“Many companies in North East Scotland are developing projects and the supply chain is looking for where they can contribute. We have first class engineers here and underwater experts here.
“We represent more than 200 companies and reflect the ambitions and activities in the area of net zero. We promote opportunities and help our members to network with developers.
“It takes a lot of infrastructure to carry out these large projects on site, and we have them.”
While Mr. Rodgers shared Aberdeen’s green energy potential with the world, Mr. Trump received an international delegation from Indonesia for Cop26 at his flagship hotel in Turnberry, Ayrshire, 80 kilometers away.
He is famous for being the first nation in the world to step out of the historic Paris Agreement, a move President Joe Biden built bridges with world leaders at Cop26.
Had Mr Trump’s longstanding legal battle with the Scottish government over Aberdeen’s wind farms been successful, the city’s future as Europe’s green energy capital could have been a different story.
He had claimed the turbines would ruin the view from his nearby Balmedie golf course, north of Aberdeen.
Mr Trump said of the program, which was launched in 2018, “by ruthlessly installing these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more harm to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history”.
When asked to provide evidence, he replied that he was “the evidence.”
“I am an expert on tourism, I am considered a world class expert on tourism. So when you say, ‘Where is the evidence?’ – I am the proof. “
The wind farms were approved and Mr Trump spent years suing the Scottish government and fighting in the UK’s highest court until his case was dismissed and he was sentenced to pay £ 225,000 to the government.
On the edge of the Scottish west coast, his hotel and golf course in Turnberry is three miles from another planned wind farm, which he has also appealed.
These so-called “monsters” in front of Aberdeen Bay are now permanent structures in the skyline, offering thousands of a lifeline of work and a future.
When Mr Rodgers outlined their potential at Cop26, he hoped the world will learn from the work Aberdeen does.
“Cop26 was a great gathering of world leaders and international government officials,” he said.
“The world is really waiting for the blueprint of the planet to come about. I hope Aberdeen’s work will help.”
Updated: November 6, 2021, 5:00 a.m.