Orkney hosts major global ocean energy event

Paul Boughton

A major international ocean energy conference is taking place in Orkney, Scotland, with wave and tidal test experts from around the world travelling to the islands to see first hand the pioneering work carried out by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The two-day Global Ocean Energy symposium will also give test facility delegates the opportunity to forge new working relationships, share knowledge and discuss common industry challenges, against the backdrop of Orkney’s unrivalled levels of marine energy activity.

Supported by development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Orkney Islands Council, and hosted by EMEC, the symposium is being hailed as the flagship event in a year-long programme of activities celebrating EMEC’s tenth anniversary.

Around 25 delegates - from as far afield as Singapore, the USA and China - are attending the symposium, scheduled to run in Kirkwall between 15 and 17 October.

Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC, said: “Right from the outset, EMEC has taken a collaborative approach to the development of international standards for wave and tidal energy testing, recognising that this knowledge sharing is vital if the marine energy industry is to reach its full potential. Whilst EMEC remains the only fully operational wave and tidal test facility in the world, a growing number of nations are now well down the path towards creating their own centres, many based on our model and utilising our support and advice.

“It’s in this spirit of continuing cooperation that we host next month’s symposium, in what is our tenth anniversary year, and we look forward to welcoming colleagues from around the world to show them first hand the positive impact marine renewables is having in Orkney.”

Ken Grant, HIE’s area manager for Orkney, said: “EMEC's knowledge and expertise in the marine energy field continues to be sought around the world, and the global interest in this symposium is further testament to the centre's leading role in the development of this industry. EMEC has been pivotal to the progress we have seen in the wave and tidal sector over the last decade and we now have an industry supporting around 250 jobs in Orkney and some 500 in Scotland.

"Wave and tidal energy have come a long way since EMEC opened, yet there are many challenges to overcome for the industry to reach commercial deployment. During the next 10 years EMEC will continue to play a vital role in the development of the sector, and will remain critical to Scotland's world-lead in marine renewables."

During the event, delegates will have the opportunity to visit EMEC’s wave and tidal test sites at Billia Croo and the Fall of Warness. They’ll also view new harbour facilities at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness, created by Orkney Islands Council as part of its three ports strategy, aimed at supporting the renewables industry.

Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “I’m proud that the Council was among the Government and public sector organisations that supported the creation of EMEC. Over the past decade, we have continued to provide strong backing for the marine renewable energy sector. Our multi-million pound three ports strategy is all about creating key facilities for the industry at key locations in Orkney.

“The newly extended pier at Hatston recently played host to five tidal energy technologies – more than at any other single site in the world. It’s heartening to see investment rewarded – and the global lead Orkney has taken in the drive to harness energy from the sea.”

For more information, visitwww.emec.org.uk