"Despite its size and remote location, Shetland is taking a lead in the journey to net zero."
Joseph Najduch (28), originally from Lancashire, moved to Shetland in 2019 whilst pursuing his dream of joining the RAF. After falling in love with the islands, he joined the Shetland Islands Council, supporting the servicing of the oil and gas industry in the region. Today, he is helping to decarbonise the region, potentially making use of former oil and gas infrastructure.
When I was growing up, I had a keen interest in technology. My desire to work in the field of technology grew while at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. It led me to join the RAF Reserves for two years while at university, where I did some basic flight training. After completing my degree in Mathematics and Statistics, I decided to move to Shetland with my partner, but I still had the aim of joining the RAF full-time.
While on Shetland, an opportunity came up to join the Shetland Islands Council as a Project Officer, exploring future energy opportunities around the Sullom Voe area along with the offshore oil and gas fields connecting into the region. I took on the role because of the opportunity to learn about technologically complex systems and the opportunities that technology can create. An island system, like Shetland, has been really interesting to work with – it is much more extensive and significant than the island’s size and remote location would suggest.
When I first joined the Shetland Islands Council, my work was focused heavily on the traditional oil and gas industry, in particular working with marine services the council provides to the industry. However, within a year, my role became increasingly focused on the energy transition, with a particular emphasis on offshore wind and hydrogen. Today, as a Future Energy Project Manager, my team and I are looking at how established infrastructure on Shetland, including ports, could be used to support the acceleration of the energy transition. Most recently, I’ve been involved in several projects, including exploring the use of Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC) to export and store hydrogen.
The Highlands and Islands, and especially Shetland, have the potential to play an incredibly important role in the energy transition, as a result of the history of the oil and gas industry. The natural resources of the region also make it unique and attractive for renewable energy sources – in fact, Shetland has the best wind load factor in the world. It is amazing how a seemingly isolated island can play such a significant role within the industry.
I believe the oil and gas industry will have to play a vital role in the energy transition. The industry’s existing infrastructure and decades of expertise will accelerate change and help us realise our climate targets. There will be a need for oil and gas to play a role in the world’s energy mix for some time; however, because of the industry’s safety standards, expertise and offshore experience, operators will be key in developing tomorrow’s technology, such as offshore wind. Oil and gas companies are already engaged in the transition to clean energy production.
Because of this, I think the industry has a positive future. There is a clear desire to collaborate and address the challenges presented by the energy transition. It is a truly inspiring and engaging industry to be involved in right now and my desire to join the RAF is now firmly on hold for the time-being.
My advice for anyone joining the industry is to be prepared for uncertainty – in a positive way as so many exciting new ideas emerge every week to transform our understanding of the energy sector. The industry is currently redefining itself and I’ve been lucky enough to be actively involved in this journey. You could be too.