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  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 significant development of the marine energy sector in our region in Marine Energy - key steps to maintaining a Great British success story (published in 2016).

Wave Energy Scotland

Wave Energy Scotland

Wave Energy Scotland (WES) was formed by HIE at the request of Scottish Government in 2014 to accelerate the development of wave energy technology. Since then, WES has funded 132 contracts, committed £50m and been involved with 300 separate organisations, across 18 different countries.

Scotland, and in particular, the Highlands and Islands is still leading the world in the development of marine energy.

Wave Energy Scotland


Emec (1)

European Marine Energy Centre

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. 

EMEC celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023 and remains the world’s only accredited grid-connected open sea facility for the testing of wave and tidal energy conversion technologies, operating to internationally recognised (UKAS) laboratory standards. EMEC has supported a number of notable UK and world firsts on their test sites, including delivery of the first power to the grid from an offshore wave energy device and the first production of green hydrogen from tidal energy, even hosting trials of a novel underwater datacentre on behalf of Microsoft.

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 two decades 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 co-ordinating research leading ultimately to full-scale testing at sea. Since its inception in 2003, it has seen world leading innovation – from projects looking at EMEC’s subsea cables to the generation of hydrogen at their test sites.

Find out more on the EMEC website.



Scotland’s flagship tidal project, MeyGen located in the Pentland Firth, between the Ness of Quoys and the island of Stroma, has produced over 52 GWH’s (gigawatt hours) of clean green electricity from the power of the sea to the national grid. No other project in the world has come close to achieving this. 

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. A further 2 xtwo M100kW machines were deployed in January 2023 , This project is the world’s first community- scale tidal array. Nova’s tidal machines exports power to the local grid in Shetland, as well as powering the world’s first tidal powered Electric Vehicle (EV) charger.

Find out more about Nova Innovation.


Orbital Marine Power

Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s largest and most powerful tidal turbine, is grid connected at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Orbital Marine Power is the first tidal developer to produce green hydrogen from electricity generated by the sea.

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 Marine Power’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.


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