Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 18:27 UK

'Hydrogen highway' plans backed

By Douglas Fraser
BBC Scotland business editor

Riversimple car (Anthony Dawton)
Hydrogen-powered cars could be rolled out next year

A coastal strip north of Aberdeen is being zoned as a "hydrogen highway", trying out the new fuel technology for transport and a new power grid.

The Energetica plan has been backed by planners in Aberdeenshire and the city.

It will create a 30-mile corridor along the North Sea coast to serve as a magnet for the next generation of energy businesses and workers.

One part of the plan is to create a hydrogen highway, including fuel points at Bridge of Don, Ellon and Peterhead.

The scheme has been described by backers as "the long-term vision".

Hydrogen power, which is touted as the greenest of all energy sources, could be used to support transport, home and business energy needs.

The proposals for Energetica are truly exciting and Trump International Golf Links are delighted to be part of them
Donald Trump

It could also be produced on farms and used to power tractors, supplying refrigeration plants in food processing businesses and stand-by generators on fishing boats.

Other elements of the Energetica plan already under way include development of land near Aberdeen Airport, science parks and a centre for testing offshore wind turbines, while Peterhead is seen as well placed to become a hub for decommissioning offshore oil fields and servicing offshore wind farms.

Outdoor leisure and lifestyle attractions are seen as important parts of the energy park, as they are seen as necessary to appeal to internationally-mobile workers in the energy industry.

Homes and commercial developments in the area will be required to fit with toughened sustainable energy-use standards.

The "ballpark figure" for the Energetica scheme is put at £1.75bn, more than half of which is the planned Trump International Golf Links and five-star luxury hotel at the Menie Estate, eight miles north of Aberdeen.

Backed by US tycoon Donald Trump, it has proven controversial through its planning stages.

'Fantastic location'

Mr Trump gave his backing to the Energetic blueprint as it was set out at the Offshore Europe conference and exhibition in Aberdeen.

He said: "The proposals for Energetica are truly exciting and Trump International Golf Links are delighted to be part of them. Our project has helped put the region on the map from a tourism perspective.

"The rich, natural environment along this stretch of coastline offers a unique and fantastic location in which to live and work and I am convinced it can become a sought-after place for people and businesses from around the world".

The 30-mile energy corridor is being promoted by the Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) grouping, and has the backing of several significant players in the north-east's energy sector.

Tom Smith, chairman of Acsef, said: "Aberdeen is recognised as the oil capital of Europe but as the energy industry evolves to meet the challenges of long-term sustainability, it is vital that the region re-positions itself as a global energy hub.

"The simple message that we must convey to the world is that Aberdeen city and shire has the highest concentration of energy expertise, experience, skills and technology in the eastern hemisphere combined with fast-growing infrastructure and exciting new developments."

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