The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters get on board with marine power

Press Notice 2012/091
30 July 2012

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters in the North of Scotland will today confirm their place on the global marine energy map with the launch of the area as a Marine Energy Park. Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker will welcome the launch of the marine park during a visit to Thurso in Caithness, where he is set to address key players from across the marine renewable energy industry.

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park will incorporate the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) which attracts developers from across the world and where testing of a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices is already under way.

The purpose of the park is to heighten the international profile of the region and its reputation as a world leader in marine energy. The park will build on collaborative partnerships in the region between government on the main land and the Orkney Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise(HIE), plus a cluster of local expertise and renewable resource in the area, to help speed up progress of marine power development.

Energy from waves or tides has the potential to generate 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from eight coal fired power stations. A move to marine power can also help cut emissions and tackle climate change.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“It’s great to see Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters confirm their place on the marine power map with the launch of the second of the Coalition Government’s UK Marine Energy Parks.

“This area is already a vital part of the marine industry, thanks to its high tidal stream and wave resource. This stretch of water is also home to the European Marine Energy Centre, currently unrivalled anywhere else in the world. This park will help bring together local knowledge and expertise to spur on further development in this exciting industry.

“Marine power is a growing green clean source of power which has the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn to the economy by 2050.

“The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power and we need to really capitalise on this to ensure energy from marine reaches its full potential in our future energy mix.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise chairman Lorne Crerar said:

“We are delighted that the region’s role in the development of the marine energy sector is being recognised nationally and internationally.
“The designation as a marine energy park further promotes the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as a marine energy hub, and will accelerate investment and the industry’s ambition for commercialisation of the technologies being tested here.”

Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Councillor Steven Heddle said:

“The launch of the Marine Energy Park formalises the leading role that the waters around Orkney have already played in the development of marine energy.

“The test sites of the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney have established it as a world-leading facility in the testing and certification of marine energy devices, allowing a competitive advantage for a new UK industry.

“The development of EMEC, supported by investment from the Orkney Islands Council, has led to the growth of a local supply chain and technical expertise geared towards marine renewables which is second to none.

“Further investment by the Council in piers and onshore facilities with huge growth potential at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness – already rewarded by significant activity and employment – shows our confidence in the successful commercialisation of marine renewables and offshore wind, and in our ability to service these activities.

“We welcome the launch of the Marine Energy Park, and look forward to working with our partners to drive development and economic prosperity for our communities.”

Leader of the Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry said:

“The Highland Council has been a key partner in the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters wave and tidal programme since its earliest days, so we welcome this further recognition of the international significance of the marine resources in the north.

“We are particularly pleased to see the launch of the Marine Energy Park at the new state-of-the-art Engineering, Technology & Energy Centre in Thurso, where the next generation of marine engineers and technicians are already being developed. Together with our partners we continue to support the growth potential of marine energy for the economy of our area.”

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters is already a vital part of the UK’s growing marine sector and is home to some of the best wave and tidal resource in the country as well as home grown marine expertise.
This stretch of water is also the site of the world’s first commercial scale leasing round for marine energy. As announced by the Crown Estate (TCE) in 2010, there are 11 successful bidders for sites in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. Up to 1.6 GW (600 MW from wave and 1000MW from tidal stream) proposed by the developers involved in this leasing round, could, if developed to full capacity, meet the electricity needs of up to three quarters of a million homes.

Scrabster Harbour in Thurso is already expanding its facilities in light of the growing role of offshore energy in the area. Under its “three ports strategy”, Orkney Islands Council is investing in new and upgraded pier and quayside facilities at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness – providing support facilities at key strategic locations for the marine energy industry.

The first UK marine energy park, in South West England, was launched in January this year by Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.



Notes to editors:

  1. Highland and Islands Enterprise media contact: Lesley Gallagher; 01463 244244;
  2. Orkney Islands Council media contact: David Hartley; 01856 886348; 07713 913992;
  3. Highlands Council media contact: Public Relations Team; 01463 702020
  4. Established in 2003, The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd provides internationally recognised and independently accredited purpose-built, open sea test facilities for wave and tidal energy converters in the world class wave and tidal conditions of Orkney, Scotland. With 14 full-scale test berths, it is home to some of the most innovative marine energy devices currently in development. EMEC also provides scale testing facilities for testing smaller scale wave and tidal devices, offers a wide range of consultancy and research services, and is at the forefront in the development of industry standards. The Centre was established with around £30 million of funding from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Carbon Trust, the UK Government, Scottish Enterprise, the European Union and Orkney Islands Council but today EMEC is fully self-sufficient following a large influx of developers choosing to test their technologies in Orkney waters. [External link]
  5. EMEC media contact: Lisa MacKenzie; 01856 852207;
  6. Government support for marine power: To help develop and commercialise wave and tidal technology, the UK has the most comprehensive marine energy support programme in the world. This provides help from the earliest stages of university research through to demonstration and roll out under the Renewables Obligation. The recently published outcome of the review into support for large scale renewables can be found on the associated DECC press notice. A £20million Marine Energy Array Demonstration Fund was launched this year to help progress the development of marine devices from the current large scale prototypes to bigger formations in the sea. The Government provides support across the sector with early stage research and development funding for marine energy provided through the research councils’ SuperGen marine programme. Later-stage technology development and demonstration funding is provided through various bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board, (TSB), the Carbon Trust and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
  7. The UK Marine Energy Programme board launched in 2011 draws together a range of different organisations from across the marine energy sector (energy utilities, industrial companies, technology developers, financiers and Devolved Administrations) and plays a central role in advising Ministers what actions the UK Marine Energy Programme should address to help advance the industry.
  8. Further details of the South West Marine Energy Park Launch are on the associated DECC press notice.


Source: Department of Energy & Climate Change
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