International marine energy experts head for Orkney

FINAL preparations are underway for a major international ocean energy conference, set to take place in Orkney next week.

The two-day Global Ocean Energy symposium – part of a programme of events aimed at celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Orkney based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) – will see wave and tidal power experts from around the world gather in the islands to discuss key issues affecting their industry.

Attending the symposium – being staged in the Orkney capital of Kirkwall between 15 and 17 October – will be Oliver Wragg, EMEC’s newly appointed commercial director. Oliver joins EMEC from tidal energy developer Atlantis Resources Corporation, where he held the position of business development manager.

“In my new role with EMEC I’ll be working closely with test centres and developers around the world, so this symposium represents an ideal opportunity – both for me and for the many international delegates – to strengthen existing relationships and forge some new ones too,” he said.

Oliver has a long track record in marine renewables – he’s also a former wave and tidal development manager with Renewable UK, leading the organisation’s SeaPower campaign – and is well placed to help EMEC maintain its position at the heart of the industry.

“I’ll be making sure EMEC continues to lead the charge in terms of international collaboration between marine energy centres, further developing a shared vision for how best to go about testing and verifying the performance of wave and tidal devices,” he said. “The global industry standards pioneered by EMEC are going to be increasingly important in opening up new markets and as a lever for further investment in marine energy technology companies. What EMEC has achieved over the past decade is nothing short of phenomenal and I look forward to helping the team in Orkney build on those many achievements.”

Around 25 delegates – from as far afield as Singapore, the USA and China – are attending next week’s symposium. Amongst them will be Dr Luis Vega, manager of the Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC).

He said: “As we embark into the implementation of a wave energy test site in Hawaii we have benefited tremendously from the willingness of members of EMEC to share lessons they have learned along the way. They have been the upper division university student kindly guiding the incoming freshman class.”

On Wednesday (16 October) conference delegates will visit EMEC’s world-leading 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.

The main symposium event takes place at Kirkwall’s St Magnus Centre the following day, with an extensive programme of presentations and discussions planned on issues affecting the marine energy industry, including government policy and support, infrastructure, licensing, standards and safety. Speakers from EMEC will be joined by experts from Marine Scotland, The Crown Estate, Northern Lighthouse Board, Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to provide an extensive breadth of expertise.

Delegates will also learn of the progress being made by marine energy test centres around the world – EMEC is currently the only fully operational facility of its kind – and explore how further international collaboration and knowledge sharing can be fostered to help drive wave and tidal projects towards full-scale commercialisation.

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “This event reinforces that Scotland is the world leader in the development of marine energy, a sector which has the potential to be a significant part of our energy mix. The marine sector has huge economic potential and could bring significant investment and jobs to Scotland, especially in the most remote communities. The positive economic impacts are already being seen in places like the Orkney Islands.

“However, the development of marine technologies must not be taken for granted, and they still require significant support from governments. That is why the sharing of knowledge, expertise and innovative ideas at high-quality events like this is crucial in moving both the Scottish and the global marine energy industry forward towards commercialisation.”

The conference – hosted by EMEC and supported by Highland and Islands Enterprise and Orkney Islands Council – will run against the backdrop of Orkney’s unrivalled levels of marine energy activity, with more wave and tidal devices currently undergoing testing in the islands than at any other location in the world.  Delegates will see first hand the impact EMEC’s presence has made in Orkney – the marine energy industry currently supports around 250 island jobs – and learn more about the extensive range of local support and supply chain companies serving wave and tidal power developers.


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