Sea Discovery

EMEC Announces Expansion Plans

Image: EMEC The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is to begin consultations on the expansion of its pioneering facilities in response to rapidly growing demand for its full-scale test sites. The move comes as one of Europe’s largest electricity producers, Vattenfall, is confirmed as the latest utility to secure a test berth at the world-leading wave energy test site at Billia Croo in Orkney, where they intend to test a next generation Pelamis (P2e) device. EMEC is already host to major utilities EON and ScottishPower Renewables, whom are involved in collaboration on the development of their own Pelamis (P2) devices testing alongside each other operating as a twin-machine wave farm. The announcement follows in the footsteps of Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan and Bluewater Energy Services of the Netherlands, whom announced their intentions to test at the world-renowned tidal test site off the island of Eday last year.

EMEC’s client list now boasts developers spanning the globe, including Aquamarine Power, Wello Oy, Seatricity, OpenHydro, Atlantis Resources Corporation, Hammerfest Strøm, Voith Hydro, Tidal Generation Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce), and Scotrenewables. Neil Kermode, managing director at EMEC, says: “It is great to know that our facilities are attractive to the major utility companies, who are demonstrating a real commitment to marine renewables in testing these innovative technologies.

This should instil further confidence in the value of the marine energy industry for potential investors.” EMEC’s 14 full-scale test berths are the first and only accredited facilities of their kind in the world, and the centre’s unrivalled knowledge and experience is highly sought after – evidenced by a sizeable influx of developers in recent months. The centre is now discussing its options with industry stakeholders and authorities, and while these are still at a very early stage, expansion is now a major focus to ensure the centre can continue to deliver to the sector’s increasing needs.

Neil Kermode says: “The initial public investment and years of hard grind to establish EMEC are now really paying off. The influx of developers that has been witnessed over the last couple of years has been astounding, and the signing of the latest berth is a significant milestone for the centre.” “Ultimately, the focus of the expansion will be determined by consultation with stakeholders to assess current and future requirements, but the development of berths suitable for testing small demonstration arrays is a real possibility. “If the full potential of the industry is to be realized, there is a need to understand how arrays are to be built and operated, and if EMEC can ease the path to commercial deployment for developers, then we will.” The centre also operates two nursery test sites where smaller scale devices, or those at an earlier stage in their development, can gain at-sea experience in less challenging conditions than those at the full-scale test sites, bridging the gap between tank and full-scale testing. In the last week, EMEC signed a second overseas memorandum of understanding, to assist the creation of a test centre with the Ocean Energy Association of Japan, following a similar arrangement with the Ocean University of China made last year.

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