Our region is at the forefront of Europe's energy industry.
The Highlands and Islands is the world’s premier location for marine energy research, development and commercialisation.
For more than a decade the Highlands and Islands of Scotland has been at the 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.
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.
Read more about the successes in our region in Marine Energy - key steps to maintaining a Great British success story.
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.
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.
Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is grid connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The innovative, floating turbine is anchored in the Fall of Warness where a subsea cable connects the 2MW offshore unit to the local onshore electricity network. Three iterations of Orbital’s technology have been tested at EMEC so far: the SR250; the SR2000; and the O2.
The O2 turbine has a 74m long hull structure with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of retractable leg structures designed to give low-cost access to all major components for through life servicing. 10m blades give the O2 more than 600m2 of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy. The floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift over 50 double decker buses. Electricity is transferred from the turbine via a dynamic cable to the seabed and a static cable along the seabed to the local onshore electricity network. The turbines are bi-directional, producing on both a rising and falling tide. With a 2MW output, the O2 has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2,000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.
Find out more about Orbital Marine Power.
Explore the energy industry in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Our region is at the forefront of Europe's energy industry.
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Our infrastructure has developed into some of the finest in the UK
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Our region boasts four decades of oil and gas activity