HI-marine Energy Park

Academic Research

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland boasts world leading research and development institutions.  In terms of the study of wave and tidal energy generation and the industry’s potential impacts on ecology and the human population much of this academic research activity is based around the twin centres of Stromness in Orkney and Thurso, in Caithness.

As a result of its unique role in assisting a variety of wave and tidal technologies to get into the water for the first time,  EMEC is able to gain insight into the various issues being faced by developers in the early stages of the industry and to pinpoint those “unknowns” that require further research in order to provide greater certainty, either in terms of understanding the physical resource, practical and/or economic constraints on device deployment, or indeed the likely impacts of single or multiple devices on the environment around them or on local populations. 

The specialist research team within EMEC, based in Stromness, has developed a number of collaborative research projects in recent years and the centre is an active participant in many others, led by academic institutions at home and overseas, where its facilities and generic datasets can be used to inform results.   Much of this groundbreaking research work has been aimed at providing background information on ecological impacts of devices within the marine environment, which has greatly informed the consenting and regulatory process for marine renewables.

Stromness is also home to the International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT), part of Heriot Watt University’s Institute of Petroleum Studies, which has had a campus in the islands for over 21 years.  Over the past decade, ICIT has been at the forefront of research and teaching in relation to wave and tidal energy and its effects, based largely around device testing at EMEC and forthcoming developments in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters strategic area.  The institute delivers a dedicated MSc course in Marine Renewables, adding to complementary courses in Marine Resource Management and Renewable Energy Development, turning out in excess of 250 MSc graduates and 10 PhD graduates to date, many of whom are now employed either by the leading wave and tidal technology developers, utilities or in key supply chain companies. 

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI), based in Thurso, is part of the UK’s newest university, the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI).  Over the past decade, ERI has established itself as a dynamic centre of research expertise, specialising in pioneering studies of the marine renewable energy resource and the environmental constraints surrounding their sustainable development; and delivering acclaimed knowledge exchange, education and training, consultancy and commercial services.  Based in the new state-of the-art and highly sustainable £3m Centre for Energy and the Environment (opened Jan 2011), ERI now boasts a team of 40 staff and research students. 

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