Marine energy hydropower test center expanding offerings for hydro development

Scotland’s European Marine Energy Centre, a test center for commercial-scale wave and tidal energy hydropower devices, is expanding to attract international businesses with smaller prototypes at earlier development stages, EMEC reported.

The Orkney-based center plans to add “nursery sites” to its operation to offer additional versatility in its testing of new technology, the center reported.

Recently, the test center for wave and tidal energy technologies announced it is expanding its workforce to meet the growing demands of companies developing devices that harness energy from the sea.

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Press release:

The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has now identified “nursery sites” in the islands to plug the vital gap between test tanks and full ocean conditions for unproven energy devices.

EMEC’s expansion into ‘softer’ sea areas helps keep Scotland’s Highlands and Islands in the global forefront of marine energy development, as the full-scale device testing ‘capital’ and recent home of the world’s first commercial wave and tidal energy sites leasing round.

Development of marine energy technologies is accelerating worldwide, as commercial opportunities and government environmental policies come to bear, said EMEC managing director Neil Kermode.

“These scale test sites will enable developers to take quicker and cost-effective routes to market, through initial access to more benign conditions for mid-scale devices,” he added.

“They will be supported by moorings, data collection and other services complementary to our full scale test areas, along with ‘load dump’ capabilities, as their power output will not go to the grid. This means the developers can concentrate on their devices and technologies, free of many other technical issues.”

The four new berths – two each for wave and tidal – are planned to be available next year. Two general areas for the berth sites have been earmarked for further exploration – for the wave berths within the north-east corner of Scapa Flow, and for the tidal berths in the Shapinsay Sound. They were selected after consultations with developers to focus on their needs, including wave and tidal strengths, device sizes, shore side facilities and speed and ease of local harbour access.

Ongoing discussions with other stakeholders will determine the best specific sites in each area, to minimise environmental impacts and avoid sea traffic The berths are being developed with funding from the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), subject to issues including consents and seabed lease agreements.

EMEC’s larger commercial-scale sites, the first in the world to provide grid-connected testing facilities, have so far attracted a range of device developers who have located there or will arrive this year. These include Pelamis Wave Power, Aquamarine Power, OpenHydro, and Tidal Generation Ltd.

With demand building, EMEC is also expanding both commercial-scale sites, cabling a fifth wave berth at Billia Croo off the south west Orkney mainland and taking the number of tidal berths at the Fall of Warness off the island of Eday from five to seven.

EMEC was established in 2003 in a GBP15m project coordinated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and also including funding from the Scottish and UK Governments, Scottish Enterprise, the Carbon Trust, the European Union and Orkney Islands Council.

Source: EMEC

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Marine energy hydropower test center expanding workforce as demand grows

A leading marine energy hydropower test center for wave and tidal energy technologies is expanding its workforce to meet the growing demands of companies developing devices that harness energy from the sea.

EMEC, the Orkney, Scotland-based European Marine Energy Centre, is gearing up for the arrival of more devices capable of generating electricity from waves or tidal currents, a Scottish Government economic development agency reported. EMEC operates the world’s first open-sea, grid-connected test facilities for prototype wave and tidal energy technologies.

Currently, Ireland’s OpenHydro is testing its tidal turbines at EMEC, while Scotland’s Aquamarine Power is testing its Oyster wave energy converter. (HydroWorld 11/30/09)

A world first was achieved when Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power generated electricity to the National Grid from its deep water floating device at EMEC’s wave test site, EMEC reported. A second test site for tidal devices off the island of Eday has since been opened, with the first developer, Dublin-based OpenHydro, installed and generating electricity to the grid, the center reported.

Building on that experience, OpenHydro has now successfully deployed a commercial turbine at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. (HydroWorld 11/17/09)

With machines already undergoing sea trials at EMEC, five new staff are to be recruited to join the 13-strong team currently running the center, according to a report from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, a Scottish Government economic and community development agency.

EMEC Managing Director Neil Kermode said: “These are exciting times for us, with our facilities playing such an important role at the cutting edge of marine power development. We’ll see a number of very different technologies being tested in the waters around Orkney during 2010, clear evidence of rapid progress being made towards the commercial-scale harvesting of clean, sustainable energy from the seas around us.”

If ocean energy trial projects are successful in the next few years, the industry could represent a large source of renewable electricity generation capacity by 2025, according to a report by Pike Research. (HydroWorld 1/19/10)

Pike Research’s study, “Hydrokinetic and Ocean Energy”, assesses the market opportunity for five main types of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies: ocean wave, tidal stream, river hydrokinetic, ocean current, and ocean thermal.

OpenHydro Chief Executive Officer James Ives said: “EMEC is recognized internationally as a center of excellence for marine energy development. In bringing our turbine to the stage of commercial deployment, OpenHydro also relied on the knowledge and expertise of a large number of organizations, businesses and support services in Orkney. These range from divers and specialist engineers, to environmental consultancies, hotels and providers of vessels large and small. It has meant a substantial investment on our part and demonstrates the positive impact tidal energy is already having on communities like Orkney.”

Oyster, a wave energy converter developed by Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power, is also generating electricity for the UK National Grid while undergoing a test program at EMEC.

Atlantis Resources Corp. likewise has selected the waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands as the proving ground for the world’s biggest tidal turbine. (HydroWorld 12/8/09)

Ocean Power Technologies signed an agreement with EMEC in 2008, enabling the wave energy developer to install a wave project at the test site. Recently, construction began off Oregon’s coast on a commercial U.S. wave energy farm, which is being developed by Ocean Power Technologies. (HydroWorld 2/22/10)

Ten of the current EMEC team were recruited from within Orkney. The center is now seeking to fill three research posts, with two more staff needed to join the operations team looking after electrical and testing activities.

Elaine Hanton, head of the energy team at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said “HIE continues to be a strong supporter of EMEC, and we are delighted that the team in Orkney is growing. These new additions will give EMEC the additional fire power needed to meet the research needs of an exciting and rapidly-growing industry.”

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