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marine energy

Marine Energy

The Highlands and Islands is the world’s premier location for marine energy research, development and commercialisation.

Marine Energy Photo 4

Home to rich resources

For more than a decade the Highlands and Islands of Scotland has been at the very forefront of an increasingly global marine energy industry. Located on the north-western edge of Europe, the region is home to incredibly rich wind, wave and tidal resources. Its long indented coastline harbours a network of established test and deployment sites, which together offer the world’s most comprehensive route to develop, test and commercialise marine energy technologies.

The last few years have seen a period of extraordinary growth and change within the sector, in particular through the maturing of the tidal energy market and an increasing focus on technology development for the emerging wave energy sector. We are committed to supporting and encouraging the development and growth of the marine energy industry.

Already marine energy has demonstrated its potential to generate sustainable economic growth in geographic areas where skilled employment can at times be hard to find. In Orkney, significant business is being generated in supporting the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and the technology developers attracted to the facility. Real progress has been made since EMEC first opened in 2004. Numerous leading wave and tidal technologies have gone through their paces at full-scale, and nursery sites have been established to allow scale testing of new technologies.

As the sector has developed, there is now a clear differentiation between wave and tidal industries. Although our tidal sector is still developing, we have begun to see the consolidation of a number of leading firms together with a growing convergence in technology design.

Wave Energy Scotland (WES), developed at the request of Scottish Government, is supporting the wave energy sector to tackle technology challenges. 

Emec (1)


Based in the superb wave and tidal conditions of the Orkney Islands, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has become the go-to test bed for many of the world’s leading wave and tidal technologies seeking to reduce time, cost and risk for pre-commercial deployments. As the world’s first and only accredited test laboratory of its kind, EMEC has successfully supported the deployment of more grid-connected devices at its full-scale wave and tidal testing facilities than at any other single site in the world. As the sector has evolved, so too has EMEC, with the provision of their nursery sites to allow new technologies to test, at reduced scale. Over the last decade the centre has accumulated a wealth of knowledge alongside a vast repository of wave and tidal data. This has been made available to developers and the broader research community to allow a structured approach to development including common standards for performance assessment and coordinating research leading ultimately to full-scale testing at sea. It has has seen more than a decade of world leading innovation – from projects looking at EMEC’s subsea cables to the generation of hydrogen at their test sites.

Projects such as the EU funded MaRINET and FORESEA have accelerated the development of marine renewable energy by offering periods of free access, and training courses in testing techniques, whilst teaming up with the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility at the University of Edinburgh to offer a structured approach from the test tank to the ocean for new energy ideas. EMEC has developed more collaborative working internationally, furthering ties with Japan and providing advice on the development of a marine energy test centre facility in Nagasaki. It is advising on the infrastructure required to develop the test centre, from subsea cables and grid connection to resource data instrumentation, as well as the wider infrastructure requirements in the region to support marine energy deployment.

Find out more on the EMEC website.



The MeyGen tidal stream project, located at the Ness of Quoy in the Inner Sound in the Pentland Firth is the world’s first commercial size tidal stream energy project. Phase 1A – a 6MW, four x 1.5MW turbine array – is exporting power to the local grid. Further phases of this project are planned to be built out in the near future. The project boasts a supply chain including major industrials such as ABB, SSE, Global Energy Group and DEME. A number of these firms have brought expertise gained in the North Sea oil and gas sector to the project. Marine energy offers a clear transition for many of these companies to bring tried and tested experience and equipment into the marine sector.

Find out more about Meygen.

Pictured: Simon Forrest, Chief Executive Officer, Nova Innovation

Nova Innovation

Nova Innovation Ltd has taken a different approach, developing smaller scale devices. The company deployed its first tidal turbine in April 2014 in the Bluemull Sound in Shetland – the 30kW Nova 30. This was followed with the installation of three Nova M100kW turbines, again in the Bluemull Sound and exporting power to the Shetland grid. This project is the world’s first community scale tidal array. The Shetland Tidal Array is a joint enterprise between Nova Innovation (Scotland) and ELSA (Belgium). The Nova M100 tidal turbine is a next generation device, which builds on the successful design, manufacture, testing and deployment of their 30kW Nova 30 device. The Nova M100 is three times more powerful than the Nova30 but it is only twice the cost.

Find out more about Nova Innovation.

Marine Energy Photo

Orbital Marine Power

Orkney-based Orbital Marine Power continues to attract multi-million pound investment to back its plans to continue testing the world’s largest floating tidal turbine. The SR2000 (2MW) device is the largest device the Orcadian company has built and is being tested at the Fall of Warness, the EMEC tidal test centre in Orkney, where it has reached full rated power. The SR2000 has demonstrated how powerful utility scale tidal turbines can be deployed and maintained at low cost, using locally based vessels towards a step-change cost reduction for the tidal energy sector.

Find out more about Orbital Marine Power.



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