SCOTLAND’S marine energy industry was on Tuesday, October 18 the focus of the Government's Energy and Climate Change Select Committee (ECCC)'s investigation into wave and tidal renewables, as it visited the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
EMEC – the only accredited wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy in the world – welcomed the cross-party group, led by committee chairman Tim Yeo, Conservative MP for Suffolk South, to its base at Stromness and testing sites around the Islands.
The ECCC recently announced an inquiry into wave and tidal energy, investigating its potential to contribute towards the UK’s renewables and emissions targets.
The Committee met with Neil Kermode, EMEC’s managing director, to discuss the potential for renewable devices such as those tested at the centre to meet UK emissions targets, and visited its wave test site at Billia Croo to observe its innovative operations.
Accompanied by Mr Kermode and Michael Morrison of Orkney Islands Council Marine Services, the group also toured the Lyness Marine Renewables Support Base to view some of the wave energy devices based there.
Neil Kermode: “EMEC is the world’s only test laboratory for full scale wave and tidal energy converters. As a result it is hosting most of the leading technologies in the field and consequently is able to offer informed observation of the sector.
“The UK is leading the world in the race to develop and deploy wave and tidal energy converters. The scale of activity is envied elsewhere and real progress is being made due, in no small part, to consistent non-partisan support by government over a number of years.
“Marine energy will deliver on climate change, economic activity and sustainable energy policy objectives provided it continues to receive the necessary support.
“The benefits of developing a new industry and selling it to the world are huge. The costs of staying in this industry at this early stage are comparatively small.”
The Committee toured the EMEC wave and tidal test sites and the Crown Estate commercial lease development areas, and also attended a dinner event with EMEC’s technology developers, where they heard more about the technology developed at the site.
Tim Yeo, Conservative MP for Suffolk South and chairman of the ECCC, said: "This is the beginning of an important investigation process and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to visit EMEC, meeting its team and also the developers involved in what are very exciting, innovative projects here on Orkney."
Elected members and officials from Orkney Islands Council, as well as local supply chain companies including environmental consultancies, vessel operators and electrical specialists also met with committee members during the visit.
Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Stephen Hagan, said: “With an already functioning marine renewables base at Lyness and a contract awarded for major extension to Hatston Pier, the Council is playing an important role in supporting developers already basing much of their activity here and helping attract new interests.
“We are pleased along with EMEC to be able to showcase to the Select Committee our achievements in Orkney in the field of marine renewables, and the potential for Orkney to contribute to Scotland’s and the UK’s climate change targets.”