The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), in collaboration with local partners, has been awarded rights to areas of seabed in Harris, Islay and Orkney by The Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate has awarded EMEC the rights to manage two seabed zones: one for the development of tidal stream, and the other for wave. EMEC, the world leading test facility, already operates two wave test sites and two tidal test sites in Orkney, and will now begin consultations on how best to develop these new marine energy development zones.
Awarding rights to these zones will enable EMEC to manage the seabed in conjunction with its local partners and sub-let areas of seabed for developers to progress projects. EMEC has also been awarded seabed rights to progress a tidal stream project in the Stronsay Firth in Orkney.
The Crown Estate’s latest wave and tidal leasing round saw developer organisations take on a total of six zones and five sites in UK waters to catalyse technology development in the emerging wave and tidal sectors.
To start the journey towards development in these areas, EMEC has signed Memoranda of Understanding with the West Harris Trust alongside Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and the Islay Energy Trust. The respective organisations will collaborate to manage the Harris Wave Demonstration Zone and Islay Tidal Demonstration Zone in consortia acting as ‘Third Party Managers’ for their individual sites.
Each consortium will now progress with a comprehensive consultation process to ensure that the needs of the industry, key stakeholders and the local communities are fully taken into account in the future development of the sites. Consortia will then submit applications to Marine Scotland to secure permission for energy devices to be installed.
The Islay and Harris development sites will complement EMEC’s existing test sites, providing developers of wave and tidal energy devices additional options for demonstrating their technologies in real sea conditions. The sites will provide developers with a different set of marine characteristics, and may be used for single device testing and/or small array testing, with an overall site limit of up to 100MW.
The new Orkney demonstration site in the Stronsay Firth, south east of EMEC’s existing tidal test site, will enable additional testing facilities for tidal energy devices, components, subsystems, arrays and array enabling technology.
Neil Kermode, EMEC’s managing director said: “with more than 10 years of experience in wave and tidal testing at our existing sites in Orkney, we have seen 15 different companies learn from real sea experience, and feed that learning back into their next generation technologies. That in turn has created valuable momentum for the industry, but has also created a cluster of expertise and economic benefit in Orkney.
“There have been more marine energy deployments in Orkney than anywhere else in the world – growing the local supply chain as a result, and creating an estimated 300 jobs in work which is widely acknowledged to be world leading. Securing these Crown Estate agreements is an important step towards both expanding our facilities in Orkney, and supporting developments in Islay and Harris. We think this will help pave the way for the development of these opportunities across coastal communities nationwide.”
The agreements will enable the consortia to explore and assess the potential of the zones for marine energy production over a 3 year period and to seek potential developers for the sites. If these early studies prove successful the consortia will aim to manage the area for up to 45 years, entering into long-term leases with suitable developers.
Philip Maxwell, Chairman of Islay Energy Trust said: “Local involvement in the development of local assets is critically important for island communities. We are very keen to be at the forefront of marine renewables development and the economic opportunities it offers. The consortium approach allows us to play a key role in developing the area sympathetically, taking account of other local interests through comprehensive local consultation.”
EMEC will be consulting with the wave and tidal energy market and local stakeholders on how best all three of these sites can be developed and the role that EMEC can take in fostering continued development of a global ocean energy industry in Scotland.