The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has summarized ups and downs the Orkney-based centre experienced in 2015.
“We have always known that getting marine renewables to work was going to be something of a roller-coaster. We have known there would be ups and downs, twists and turns, but nonetheless this year appears to have been a particularly turbulent one for the industry, and for EMEC,” said Neil Kermode, EMEC’s Managing Director.
The downs Kermode speaks about refer to the loss of 7 staff members at EMEC announced in June, due to the restructuring process to deal with the change in the market, as well as the demise of the wave energy company Aquamarine Power, and as Kermode says ‘the end of other developers’ testing plans as they have left the wave and tidal industry.’
However, new developers have been signed up for testing at EMEC’s facilities, including Sustainable Marine Energy which signed a long-term testing contract with EMEC, and is currently gearing up to deploy five PLAT-O systems in an array over the next two years, with the first device expected to be deployed early in 2016.
A Belgian wave energy developer, Laminaria, signed a contract with EMEC to test its wave energy converter at EMEC’s grid-connected wave test site at Billia Croo, off the west coast of Orkney, Scotland, planned for 2017.
EMEC also announced that Nautricty will be returning to test its CoRMat tidal turbine, as well as ScotRenewables Tidal Power which is nearing the completion of its SR2000 2 MW floating tidal turbine, expected to be launched next year.
In 2015, EMEC has strengthened ties with other countries which work on advancing the market for marine renewables, including China and Japan. EMEC signed an agreement with Japan to provide advice on development of a marine energy test facility in Nagasaki Prefecture, and has also supported the development of a Chinese marine energy test site based in Qingdao, eastern China.
Some of the other projects EMEC participated in 2015 include the procurement of an integrated hydrogen system from ITM Power which allows the conversion of power generated at the Fall of Warness tidal test site into hydrogen fuel. Also, EMEC is working as part of a trans-Atlantic partnership looking to develop a new sensor system to measure the impact of turbulence on tidal devices.
The Orkney-based centre has also teamed up with ORE Catapult in a joint project that aims to improve wave and tidal components reliability.
“EMEC was set up to help bring a new industry and wealth to the Highlands. We really do see that some of the work we’ve started has begun to take root. The challenge in 2016 is to continue to nurture and support these innovators as they find their way to success, and we look forward to working with you to tackle these challenges next year,” concluded Kermode.