Orkney is renowned for its wind, wave and tidal energy resources.
World-class test facilities, a wealth of academic and maritime expertise and a growing number of specialist supply chain businesses have helped make Orkney a global centre for renewable energy development.
This is a community that continually strives for sustainability, values innovation and embraces efforts to develop a low carbon economy. Indeed, Orkney’s entire electricity needs are regularly met from local renewables sources.
Wind turbine power is a well-established technology in the islands, but Orkney is now at the forefront of efforts to develop commercially viable devices to harness wave and tidal energy resources, with the facilities at the European Marine Energy Centre the focus for this pioneering work.
Set up in 2003 and based in Stromness, EMEC is both an open-air laboratory for wave and tidal developers and a global industry standards setter. In addition to its 14 full-scale wave and tidal test berths – now all fully occupied by developers - EMEC operates two smaller-scale wave and tidal sites for device, technique and component testing in less challenging sea conditions. EMEC’s team of specialists also provides a range of consultancy and support services, with their expertise much in demand from emerging and planned test sites around the world.
Improving facilities for the emerging renewables industry has been a top priority for local public sector organisations, with Orkney Islands Council investing in major new harbour developments at Hatston near Kirkwall, Lyness, on the island of Hoy, and Stromness. Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands Enterprise has created extensive on-shore facilities for developers at Hatston, with further projects planned for the site and for Lyness.
The Orkney community has been quick to embrace the renewables industry, recognising its enormous economic potential, with increasing numbers of local businesses keen to diversify into the field. Marine energy now supports around 300 jobs in Orkney across a wide range of sectors, from manufacturing and engineering, to marine work, research and consultancy services, with additional posts being created every year.
Orkney Renewable Energy Forum (OREF) promotes all forms of renewable energy and efficiency and facilitates research and development. It also shares information, lobbies on strategic issues affecting renewable energy development and acts as a consultative body. Its full members are based in Orkney and support OREF’s aims, but there are also a number of associate members outwith Orkney. Full members and supporters of OREF include renewables companies, service providers, colleges and universities, local development trusts, members of the construction industry and individuals.
The Orkney Factor
Meet the people
Farming has been a way of life in Orkney for 5,000 years and remains the main industry in the islands.More
Food and Drink
Orkney's food and drink producers are enormously proud of what they bring to the marketplace, and they also have a fiercely protective attitude towards the Orkney brand.More
Arts and Crafts
Orkney supports a thriving and remarkably varied crafts industry, with skilled artisans and artists producing all manner of high quality goods.More
Tourism is one of the most important industries in Orkney, with over 140,000 annual visitors providing a £30 million economic boost to the islands.More
Orkney's construction industry remains in good health, with major building projects and a demand for new housing driving the sector.More
Fishing remains an important part of the Orkney economy, with seafood products from the islands famous throughout Britain and beyond for their quality.More