The Orkney Factor
Leading the way for marine renewables – it’s all about the “O” factor.
At first glance, it might seem remarkable that a small group of islands lies at the cutting edge of marine energy development.
But perhaps the clue that explains why Orkney is playing a world leading role in the evolution of wave and tidal technologies lies in the word “islands”.
Standing between the Atlantic and the North Sea, with fast flowing currents channelled between the outcrops of land that form our archipelago, Orkney is home to some of the most energy-rich waters in Europe.
That’s why these islands were selected as the natural home for EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre, where new seagoing technologies are put through their paces in challenging wave and tidal conditions.
It also explains why many of the successful bidders – in the world’s first leasing round for commercial marine energy projects – will base their arrays of tidal and wave devices in Orkney waters in the years ahead.
Throughout history the seas around us have challenged the lives of islanders. The sea is woven through the traditions of our community, with generations of maritime experience now being channelled into making a success of marine renewables.
From tug crews used to handling shipping in the fast flowing Pentland Firth ... to divers and providers of boats and specialised equipment ... to environmental consultancies well versed in the planning and consenting of projects requiring detailed knowledge of local conditions. Orkney-based expertise is supporting the growing number of developers choosing our waters to give their technologies a first taste of the sea.
We call it the “O” factor. And it underpins Orkney’s global role in the development of marine renewables. See what the people who work here have to say:
"Aquamarine Power has worked with more than 20 different businesses in Orkney during the installation of our full-scale Oyster wave energy device on the seabed off the Orkney mainland coast.
Many are specialists companies providing services as diverse as commercial diving, engineering, environmental monitoring and plant hire, who offered the expertise we needed to get Oyster into the water for its first sea trials - a challenging task for our own team and the many sub-contractors we work with.
We have found the Orkney community to be extremely supportive and positive about our business, and we are confident that our common goals will enable Orkney to become a global centre of marine renewable energy expertise." Martin McAdam, chief executive officer, Aquamarine Power.
"We've successfully worked with many Orkney based suppliers and mariners during our operations at EMEC. We've also found the wider Orkney community to be very supportive of what we are doing. You can expect Orkney to play a major part in our plans for next year and beyond as we build on our experience to demonstrate and commercialise wave power generation." Richard Yemm, chief technical officer, Pelamis Wave Power.
"Open Hydro have been operational at the EMEC tidal test facility in Orkney since early 2006. To date we have been successful in deploying two Open-Centre turbines in the Fall of Warness, a challenging tidal site. Our success has been largely attributable to the professional support and marine expertise we found to be available in Orkney.
Our offshore support vessesls and associated crews are all based on the islands and we have found the availability of marine supplies and services to be excellent. The successful ongoing maintenance and monitoring of our two deployed tidal devices is dependent on locally accessible support, such as ROV services and workboats. Without the unfailing support of both the marine professional services and local community in Orkney, the marine renewable industry could not have progressed to the stage it is at today." James Ives, CEO, Open Hydro.