Founded in Orkney in 2003, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is playing a key role in proving to the world the value of wave and tidal power as a sustainable source of renewable energy.
EMEC is the first centre of its kind to offer developers the opportunity to test their designs in world class marine conditions. More devices have been tested in Orkney than anywhere else, with more than 30 marine energy converters from eleven different countries entering the water here.
EMEC's Orkney test sites
Developers can use EMEC's facilities to prove what is achievable in some of the harshest marine environments, whilst in close proximity to sheltered waters and harbours. EMEC can help reduce the time, cost and risk in developing innovative renewable energy technologies through its purpose-built, fully-accredited open-sea testing facilities.
The Centre runs a number of test sites. Billia Croo is found on the western edge of the Orkney mainland in an area with some of the highest wave energy potential in Europe. The site consists of five cabled test berths in up to 70 metres of water, around 2 km offshore, as well as a near shore berth for shallow water projects.
EMEC’s tidal test site at the Fall of Warness, located to the west of the island Eday, was chosen for its high velocity marine currents which reach almost 4 m/s (8 knots) in spring tides. The facility offers eight test berths at depths ranging from 12 m to 50 m.
There are also scale test sites in Scapa Flow and Shapinsay Sound which give developers the chance to trial their devices in less challenging conditions, acting as a stepping stone between tank facilities and grid-connected tests in open water. These operations let developers and suppliers learn lessons more cheaply by reducing the need for big vessels or large plant.
With nearly two decades of front-line experience in developing marine renewables, EMEC has grown to become involved in a number of exciting and innovative projects.
It provides demonstration, technical and commercial services, and the organisation is pioneering the development of hydrogen and green energy systems in Orkney. It’s working on initiatives to support the development of floating offshore wind and a ground-breaking scheme to launch an integrated energy system in the islands.
EMEC’s experience and reputation for excellence means that learning developed here in Orkney is used worldwide through an international network of test centres, playing a central role in the continued growth of wave and tidal energy.