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£129k investment in aquaculture clean energy project

Published: 04/10/2021

A cross-border collaboration project to develop an energy and cost-efficient power management system for the aquaculture sector has secured up to £129,428 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Images courtesy of Ocean Kinetics Limited

The project aims to research and develop a clean energy storage system, recharged from renewable energy at the shore via a lightweight subsea cable.

The 12-month initiative is expected to lead to commercial activity and the creation of up to four highly skilled jobs in Argyll within three years.

It has three main advantages for the aquaculture industry; reduced operating costs; lower carbon emissions; and visibility and control capability of fish farm assets.

Shetland based firm, Ocean Kinetics Ltd, is leading the project. The company has expanded into Argyll and established a base at Malin House in the European Marine Science Park (EMSP) near Oban.

Ocean Kinetics is working with MMG Welding Ltd, which provides engineering design, fabrication and installation services to the salmon farming industry in the North West of Ireland. They are also working with Edinburgh based Stortera Ltd - a young technology development business offering smart and flexible energy storage systems.

Funding has been made possible through HIE’s role as a delivery partner in the Co-Innovate programme, which is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

This €14.7 m programme – including €2.2m from HIE - supports innovation and cross-border R&D projects in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

This is the second collaborative R&D project led by a Highlands and Islands business, the first being led by Cuantec Ltd, another EMSP based company.

Vicki Hazley, Co-Innovate programme manager at HIE, said:

“This collaborative R&D project is about addressing the need for a more efficient and responsive means of using renewable energy in aquaculture. As well as reducing operating costs, it has potential to lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, helping the industry’s contribution to net zero.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide funding and look forward to seeing the product move towards commercialisation.”

John Henderson, managing director of Ocean Kinetics, said:

“Aquaculture is an important and growing sector for us and like other industries, it must move away from fossil fuels. Key to this will be commercially viable clean power systems. Co-Innovate has allowed us to accelerate our plans to establish a base in Argyll.

“Malin House provides co-location with a number of innovative marine businesses so we are excited to see what possibilities that will bring.  Critically, we are executing this focused R&D project in a collaborative fashion, which is essential to solving big problems.”

Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager in Argyll and the Islands, added:

“Ocean Kinetics’ expansion into Argyll further strengthens the growing marine innovation cluster at the EMSP, where they will be working alongside other innovation businesses involved in the blue economy.  This is good news for the company, for the EMSP and for Argyll.”

The Co-Innovate programme encourages cross-border research and innovation among small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in fragile areas.

In Scotland it supports innovation in SMEs in Argyll and Bute, Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, the Outer Hebrides, Ayrshire and Arran, and Dumfries and Galloway. It also covers Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.

The Co-Innovate programme is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). It aims to increase the number of businesses participating in cross-border, transnational or interregional research projects.

The Co-Innovate partnership is led by InterTradeIreland and includes HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Enterprise Northern Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices in the border counties of Ireland, and East Border Region Ltd.

Match-funding for the Co-Innovate programme has been provided by HIE and Scottish Enterprise in Scotland, the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

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