Around 10% of Europe’s total wave resource flows in the seas surrounding the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Reports to the Scottish Government estimate that up to 14 gigawatts of recoverable energy lie off the area’s western and northern flanks. This potential resource has drawn world leading wave energy device developers to the area. The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets for electricity generation from wave and tidal resources to contribute to its target of securing 100% of Scotland's electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2020.
Wave Energy Scotland (WES)
Wave Energy Scotland (WES) – a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise – takes an innovative approach to supporting the development of wave technology. The new organisation is part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The budget announced on the 25th of February 2015 is £14.3m over a thirteen month period.
Contracts are awarded for technology development projects via open competitive calls, with WES particularly interested in developing low cost, efficient and reliable components and subsystems that can be shared by wave energy technology developers. WES actively encourages technology transfer from other sectors. Wave Energy Scotland will support the development of the best technology – no matter where it is from – and is open to any organisation registered in Europe.
WES has run two competitive project calls so far. The first one was for Power Take-Off systems, PTO. The second call focused on novel wave energy converter devices. Both calls are now closed.
The future direction of project calls for WES will be guided by the members of the WES Advisory Group which draws on expertise from industry and academia.
The information relating to future calls and all other WES activity is on the Wave Energy Scotland website. Please go to http://www.waveenergyscotland.co.uk
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) – www.emec.org.uk
The world’s first and only grid connected and independently accredited facility for the testing of wave and tidal energy technologies was established in Orkney in 2003. A total of 15 developers have made use of the centre over the last decade to test 23 commercial-scale prototype devices in vigorous sea conditions and to generate 'grid quality' electricity. EMEC’s main wave test site, at Billia Croo on the Atlantic coast of Orkney's west mainland, can experience waves of heights in excess of 17 metres in peak storm conditions. EMEC also operates a separate off-grid wave test site nearby in the more benign waters of Orkney’s natural harbour of Scapa Flow.
The former wave energy device developer , Pelamis Wave Power Ltd, was first to make use of EMEC's facilities deploying the Pelamis 750, which in 2004 became the world's first offshore wave energy device to generate electricity to the national grid; and later went on to test 2 further devices with the support of Eon and Scottish Power Renewables respectively. Another Edinburgh based company, the former Aquamarine Power Ltd, also tested two iterations of their near shore Oyster device at the wave site. Other recent users of the EMEC test facilities have included Seatricity and the Finnish company, Wello.
Whilst remaining independent, EMEC has fostered strong links with many developers, academic institutions, governments and regulatory bodies; leading to it becoming a key participant in over 50 site specific, national and international collaborative research projects to date; aimed at improving understanding of a wide range of environmental and operational issues faced by the global marine energy industry. EMEC is also at the forefront of moves to introduce the first international standards for marine energy, having co-ordinated the development of 12 industry guidelines, 6 of which are currently being progressed for international adoption by relevant standards’ authorities.
Harnessing Local Expertise
Wave technology device developers have been able to use the considerable expertise in the local supply chain on both sides of the Pentland Firth. For instance, Aquamarine made extensive use of the expertise of 27 local contractors on Orkney to deploy the Oyster wave energy device as well as EMEC’s facilities.
In addition fabrication has been carried out by BiFab at the Arnish yard. A range of other businesses, including Isleburn, part of the Global Energy Group, have been able to offer specialist manufacturing and development expertise to support various projects.