The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) was set up in 2000 and is based in Thurso, Scotland. Part of the North Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the ERI has a portfolio of multidisciplinary research activities that address contemporary environmental issues.

eri-logoThe ERI’s activities are wide-ranging and include research (applied and fundamental); knowledge transfer; consultancy & commercial services; and education & training. We currently focus on a number of priorities:

  • renewable energy & the environment
  • climate change
  • ecology & ecosystems
  • biogeochemistry
  • biotechnology & bioresources and
  • emerging contaminants and ecotoxicology.

Research themes at the ERI are issue driven: they address regional, national and international environmental issues. Modern laboratory facilities house a wide range of state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation – including gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometers, scanning electron microscope, etc. Together with the ERI’s modelling and survey capabilities (including a coastal survey vessel), these allow the ERI to undertake environmental research and provide services to a very high standard. As part of North Highland College-UHI, the ERI is also engaged in the provision and delivery of Masters and Ph.D. programmes. Its MSc. by research in Renewable Energy & the Environment has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the emerging renewable energy sector, and accompanies the newly introduced taught MSc courses Sustainable Energy Solutions, and Developing Low Carbon Communites

As part of its strategic objectives, the ERI seeks to provide quality service and knowledge transfer activity that are relevant and responsive to the needs of the region. Our reputation has been built on the close working relationships we have developed with local businesses and public agencies across the Highlands in sectors that include renewable energy, aquaculture, distilling, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Our ethos of working in partnership and collaboration has led to our involvement in major national and European projects, and continues with our involvement with BioPAD.

ERI involvement with BioPAD

The Highlands & Islands of Scotland are burdened by high fuel prices, and contribute to global warming through high per capita energy consumption. As part of the ERI’s Renewable Energy and the Environment and Biotechnology and Bioresources Research themes, we have worked on a number of projects relating to both wood fuel supply and on identifying suitable species for wood fuels in order to help local communities and businesses reduce emissions. We’ve achieved this through our focus on knowledge-transfer opportunities with communities and local businesses.

The BioPAD project is very significant in the light of Scotland’s renewable energy policies. The government target is to achieve 30 per cent of Scotland’s energy needs, and 11 per cent of heat demand, through renewable sources by 2020, and the strategy to do so has a number of key policy pillars and actions that the project will help address. These are:

  • linking environmental sustainability to economic growth
  • creating new indigenous industries in rural areas
  • adopting tripartite development models
  • promoting and accelerating the penetration of biomass technology.

BioPAD provides another opportunity for the ERI to apply its expertise and engage with communities not only in Scotland but across the Northern Periphery region and contribute towards achieving regional, national and European renewable energy targets.

The ERI is leading Work Package 4 (WP4) of BioPAD (‘Dissemination and Emissions) and in addition to providing assistance to other Work Packages, will be primarily responsible for:

  • Review of dissemination strategy for each participating region and agreement of action plan
  • Development with lead partner of pan European dissemination strategy and associated action plan
  • Implementation of dissemination plan and assessment of impact
  • Design and implementation of BioPAD sustainability model in each participating region
  • Input of emissions capability on evolved Tool models
  • Review of macroalgae as a renewable source of energy in the Northern Periphery of Europe


Environmental Research Institute

Dr Neil James
Researcher and Postgraduate Coordinator
Tel.: +44 (0)1847 889579

Dr Kenny Boyd
Senior Research Fellow
Tel.: +44 (0)1847 889595

The ERI is part of the Highlands and Island Bioenergy Alliance –

Associate Partners:

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