International demand drives EMEC expansion
Orkney is playing a global role in the evolution of wave and tidal technologies, thanks to the unique facilities provides by EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre.
As the first centre of its kind to be created anywhere in the world, EMEC offers developers the opportunity to test full-scale grid-connected devices in unrivalled wave and tidal conditions.
The machines under test generate electricity by harnessing the energy of waves and tidal streams. Independent verification – recognised internationally – is provided by EMEC.
Such is the demand that the centre is expanding.
Three new seabed cables have been installed, two at the tidal test site off the island of Eday, the other at the wave site at Billia Croo near Stromness. This takes the total number of grid-connected test berths to 12.
In addition, EMEC is establishing new nursery sites for prototype wave and tidal technologies.
These will allow developers to test smaller scale machines in less challenging conditions than those experienced at the main test sites.
Created in “softer” sea areas, they will plug the vital gap between test tanks and full ocean conditions for unproven energy devices.
The new nursery berths are planned for next year. Two general areas have been earmarked for further exploration – within the north east corner of Scapa Flow for the wave berths and in Shapinsay Sound for the tidal berths. They were selected after consultations that focussed on the needs of developers.
Funding worth £8 million from DECC, the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, is underpinning the creation of the new facilities.
EMEC was established in 2003, in a £15 million project coordinated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise that also included funding from the Scottish and UK Governments, Scottish Enterprise, the Carbon Trust, the European Union and Orkney Islands Council.
The Pelamis “sea snake” device developed in Scotland generated electricity for the National Grid while under test at EMEC – a world first for an offshore wave energy device.
A seabed turbine developed by Dublin company OpenHydro also fed power into the grid from EMEC’s tidal test site, a first for Britain and Ireland.
Aquamarine Power is currently trialling its Oyster 1 wave device at EMEC and, like Pelamis Wave Power, will also test second-generation machines at the wave site. The Atlantis Resources Corporation has recently installed a turbine at the tidal site.
Other developers scheduled to use EMEC’s facilities include Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), Wello Oy, E.ON and ScottishPower Renewables (both working with Pelamis Wave Power), Hammerfest Strøm UK, Tidal Generation Ltd (TGL), Orkney-based Scotrenewables and Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies.
For more information visit the EMEC website.