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Wave energy project could bring hundreds of jobs to the Western Isles

An Oyster wave power device being installed in OrkneyAquamarine Power’s proposed wave farm on the Western Isles could create hundreds of long-term skilled jobs in one of Britain’s most remote communities, according to figures published today.

The Edinburgh firm’s 40MW Lewis wave farm – which was fully consented by the Scottish Government earlier this year – could generate between 98 and 200 jobs during construction and inject up to £9 million a year into the Western Isles and wider Highland economy.

The project would involve installing up to 50 of Aquamarine Power’s Oyster near-shore energy machines along the north-west coast of Lewis. The company is currently testing their second full-scale prototype, the Oyster 800, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

The figures come from an in-depth assessment carried out by Aquamarine Power using a methodology developed by consultants ABP Marine Environmental Research and Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd.

The consultants were commissioned by seabed owner the Crown Estate, using funds from their Pentland Firth and Orkney waters enabling actions programme, to develop an objective technique which project developers could use to identify the economic opportunity presented to the UK by the wave and tidal industry.

Aquamarine Power’s study showed that their 40MW wave energy project in the Western Isles could generate:

98 to 200 jobs in the Outer Hebrides and wider Highlands and Islands during the construction phase, generating an estimated £4.49 million to £9 million gross value added per year;

23 to 37 jobs during the 20 year operations and maintenance phase, generating £1.3 million to £2.1 million per year.

The calculation includes all direct employees and contractors used by Aquamarine Power, indirect jobs such as shops, hotels and local services, and induced jobs created by the increased overall activity in the area.

The first two Oyster devices have been almost entirely British-built, and the study confirms that future machines could be manufactured wholly in the UK, with the potential to source a hundred per cent of the farm’s manufacturing supply chain within Britain.

“The UK is looking for success stories where British businesses can build on British innovation to create economic activity and jobs here in the UK,” says Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam.

“Wave energy has been invented here, is being tested here and has the potential to be a home-grown global economic success. Our study shows there is the potential to secure all of the manufacturing, construction and operations and maintenance supply chain here in Britain.

“The vast majority of the UK’s wave resource lies in remote locations, where economic opportunities are few. Wave energy offers a real opportunity for these communities, even for a relatively small project. With hundreds of megawatts of wave power in Scotland’s islands there is genuine potential for the UK to capture the entire supply chain of this exciting new industrial sector.”

Lindsay Leask, Senior Policy Manager for Offshore Renewables at Scottish Renewables said:”This study shows yet again that wave and tidal energy has the potential to create thousands of jobs across Scotland. Importantly, many of these new, skilled jobs will be in some of our most remote communities.

“However, we must not forget this is exactly the kind of prize that could be lost unless access to the grid is secured and connection charges for Scotland’s island-based marine energy projects are set at a competitive level.”

Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Local Authority for the Western Isles, said: “The Western Isles are home to one of the best wave energy resources in Europe, if not the world, and our community is determined to maximise the benefits from this resource.  At a time when the islands are facing serious structural disadvantages on account of peripherality, transport costs, distance to markets and so on, it is important that the opportunity to develop new industries and to create employment is grasped.  We have worked closely with Aquamarine Power as they have developed their world-leading project off the Atlantic seaboard of the Western Isles and have long recognised the potential for local investment and employment through this project.  Up to 200 jobs in construction and up to 37 long term jobs in operation and maintenance will make a huge difference in our fragile economy and we will continue to lobby for equitable transmission charges for the islands so that projects like Aquamarine Power’s can reach commerciality and contribute to UK security of energy supply.  We must make sure that the UK retains its competitive advantage in this emerging technology which will have global application as it matures and as more maritime nations seek to address climate change issues.”

Calum Davidson, Director of Energy and Low Carbon with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We have been committed to the development of the marine energy industry in the Highlands and Islands for well over a decade, and there is no doubt that the region is now widely regarded as the global leader.

“Through the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, we have been pleased to enable Aquamarine Power to test and develop its Oyster devices to bring them to the stage when they can be put into commercial use, both in Scotland and around the world. Wave energy is still a relatively young part of the renewables sector, and this assessment underlines its tremendous potential to generate substantial economic benefits in some of our most fragile areas.”

David Krohn, Wave and Tidal Energy Development Manager, Renewable UK, said: “This is a great example of a leading wave energy technology, developed and demonstrated in the UK, having a real positive effect on the British economy. This methodology will enable marine energy projects to highlight the capacity for the industry to deliver real socio-economic benefits to the United Kingdom. We recommend the use of this tool to other developers looking to demonstrate the use of local supply chains.”

ABP Marine Environmental Research and Risk and Policy Analysts developed the methodology to look at all of the socio-economic inputs (both positive and negative) of wave and tidal energy developments in Scotland. It enables developers to gather all of the relevant information related to a project – such as materials and services used – based on standard industry data, and then runs this information through an excel-based spread sheet to deliver a set of objective, standardised outputs.

“The beauty of this methodology,” says Stephen Hull, Technical Director at ABP Marine Environmental Research, “is that it can be picked up and used by other renewable industries such as offshore wind, to demonstrate the positive impact their projects will have on the UK supply chain.

“There is real potential for other businesses in the renewable energy sector to show, in an objective way, the jobs and economic activity their projects will create.”

A draft copy of the methodology can be found HERE

 

Global Collaboration Vital for Growth of Marine Energy

That is the key message from the Global Energy Symposium in Orkney

INCREASED connectivity and collaboration between the world’s wave and tidal power test sites is vital to ensure resources are used strategically and to help boost the development of international markets.

That was the key message from delegates attending a major international marine energy conference held in Orkney last week.

Plans to create an international research forum and global ocean energy network to drive progress in the sector will now be drawn up.

The three-day Global Ocean Energy Symposium – part of a programme of events marking the tenth anniversary of the Orkney based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) – attracted wave and tidal experts from mainland Europe and as far afield as China, North America and Singapore.

Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC, said: “The symposium was an enormous success and gave marine energy test centre colleagues from around the world the opportunity to see first hand the pioneering wave and tidal power work taking place here in Orkney.

“It was a privilege, during our tenth anniversary year, to showcase EMEC’s world-leading facilities to our international colleagues,demonstrating to them how marine energy activity is having a positive economic impact in the islands, and indeed Scotland. We think that being able to point to the success of Orkney will help them accelerate their own programmes.Two thirds of the planet is covered in oceans, so harvesting this energy will be a multinational challenge, with Scotland in the thick of it.

“We decided we wanted to build on the considerable momentum gained over the past decade through greater international collaboration and that’s why the symposium made a call for the creation of a formal global research forum for test centres.

“In addition to presenting a united front as the industry moves from its research and development phase towards full-scale commercialisation, this global network will act as a conduit for further peer to peer knowledge sharing and collaboration between marine energy test centres. Only by working together more closely can the industry overcome the challenges it will face over the next ten years and attract the vital private and public sector support and funding it will need to progress. Test facilities will play a central role in this effort, so it makes sense to create a forum that ensures we have an effective voice in the industry.”

Twenty delegates attended last week’s symposium – hosted by EMEC and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council. Speakers from EMEC were joined by experts from the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland, The Crown Estate, Northern Lighthouse Board and HIE.  Topics covered at the event included government policy and support, infrastructure, licensing, standards and safety.

Amongst the international delegates was Dr Belinda Batten, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Centre in Oregon, USA.

She said: “It’s been a fantastic event, bringing together such a good cross section of people from around the world. In terms of what I’ll take away from the symposium, one of the biggest things for me has been the lessons learned by EMEC on all different fronts. In Oregon we’ve tested a non-grid connected, half-scale device in the ocean – the grid-connected facility is our future – and so to have a partner in EMEC is really beneficial. I think there’s real value in being able to learn from each other as we’re going through all the stages.”

Koh Eng Kiong, programme director with the Energy Research Institute at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, added: “I’ve found this gathering of all the stakeholders from test centres around the world very useful. It’s given a sense of the issues everyone is facing and reinforced the point that we need a common standard for marine energy testing.”

 

Orkney to host World Ocean Energy Event

Global Ocean Energy symposium at EMEC

A MAJOR international ocean energy conference is set to take place in Orkney next month, with wave and tidal test experts from around the world travelling to the islands to see first hand the pioneering work carried out by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The two-day Global Ocean Energy symposium will also give test facility delegates the opportunity to forge new working relationships, share knowledge and discuss common industry challenges, against the backdrop of Orkney’s unrivalled levels of marine energy activity.

Supported by development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Orkney Islands Council, and hosted by EMEC, the symposium is being hailed as the flagship event in a year-long programme of activities celebrating EMEC’s tenth anniversary.

Around 25 delegates – from as far afield as Singapore, the USA and China – are attending the symposium, scheduled to run in Kirkwall between 15 and 17 October.

Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC, said: “Right from the outset, EMEC has taken a collaborative approach to the development of international standards for wave and tidal energy testing, recognising that this knowledge sharing is vital if the marine energy industry is to reach its full potential. Whilst EMEC remains the only fully operational wave and tidal test facility in the world, a growing number of nations are now well down the path towards creating their own centres, many based on our model and utilising our support and advice.

“It’s in this spirit of continuing cooperation that we host next month’s symposium, in what is our tenth anniversary year, and we look forward to welcoming colleagues from around the world to show them first hand the positive impact marine renewables is having in Orkney.”

Ken Grant, HIE’s area manager for Orkney, said: “EMEC’s knowledge and expertise in the marine energy field continues to be sought around the world, and the global interest in this symposium is further testament to the centre’s leading role in the development of this industry. EMEC has been pivotal to the progress we have seen in the wave and tidal sector over the last decade and we now have an industry supporting around 250 jobs in Orkney and some 500 in Scotland.

“Wave and tidal energy have come a long way since EMEC opened, yet there are many challenges to overcome for the industry to reach commercial deployment. During the next 10 years EMEC will continue to play a vital role in the development of the sector, and will remain critical to Scotland’s world-lead in marine renewables.”

During the event, delegates will have the opportunity to visit EMEC’s wave and tidal test sites at Billia Croo and the Fall of Warness. They’ll also view new harbour facilities at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness, created by Orkney Islands Council as part of its three ports strategy, aimed at supporting the renewables industry.

Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “I’m proud that the Council was among the Government and public sector organisations that supported the creation of EMEC. Over the past decade, we have continued to provide strong backing for the marine renewable energy sector. Our multi-million pound three ports strategy is all about creating key facilities for the industry at key locations in Orkney.

“The newly extended pier at Hatston recently played host to five tidal energy technologies – more than at any other single site in the world. It’s heartening to see investment rewarded – and the global lead Orkney has taken in the drive to harness energy from the sea.”

Aquamarine Power CEO welcomes wave and tidal strike price

Martin McAdam CEO Aquamarine Power

Martin McAdam CEO Aquamarine Power

Commenting on the announcement today by Danny Alexander MP of a proposed strike price of £305 MWh for wave and tidal energy to be implemented as part of electricity market reform, Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam said:

“This proposed strike price gives a vital signal to inward investors that the UK Government will continue its support of Britain’s world-leading wave and tidal technologies.

“The private sector has shown it will invest in wave energy, provided there is a long-term market and stable support from government. This is a very good step on the way.

“Lack of grid connections to the Scottish islands means there will be minimal wave energy deployment by 2017 and the additional commitment by the UK Government to consult on a solution to this long-standing problem is very heartening.”

Links

Aquamarine Power

Voith Wave Goodbye to Scotland

Inverness-based wave energy firm go under

Voith Hydro has decided to shut down its wave power business in Inverness, retreating to   the company’s engineering centre in Heidenheim, Germany. Voith were the creators of the first ever wave power station in Scotland, the LIMPET on Islay.

LIMPET - wave power on IslayA company spokesman said  “The projects which we have put in practice have shown that this technology works. What is missing is a positive investment climate for wave power globally.  Voith will re-intensify its wave power station activities as soon as the market situation is appropriate and such operations appear commercially beneficial”.

This follows the cancellation of Voight’s  wave energy project at Siadar on the West coast of Lewis in December. The cancellation was blamed on  lack of funding and uncertainty surrounding the installation of the necessary HVDC interconnector across the Minch to allow  renewable electricity generated in the Western Isles to flow into the grid.

This blog predicts that this will not be the last renewables opportunity lost in Scotland because of the ongoing delays in implementing the necessary grid upgrades.