EMEC reflects on favorable waves and tides of 2018

Wello’s Penguin wave energy device in Orkney (Photo: Colin Keldie; Courtesy of CEFOW)

The team of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has made a recap of the achievements made throughout 2018 at the world-renowned Orkney-based testing center that were nothing short of remarkable, and included the proving of viability of tidal energy with GWh’s of generation, continued demonstration of the survivability of wave energy, backed with major hydrogen related projects and other marine renewable energy milestones.

Since its establishment 2003, EMEC has hosted 20 wave and tidal energy clients, spanning 11 countries, with 31 marine energy devices, claiming the most ocean energy deployments in the world at a single site.

CorPower Ocean’s C3 device (Photo: CorPower Ocean)

Bumping up this stat early in the year was CorPower Ocean with the deployment of its C3 wave energy converter (WEC) at EMEC’s Scapa Flow scale test site. CorPower completed the Stage 3 demonstration program over the summer, with EMEC overseeing the dry and wet testing of the machine, ensuring strict quality management and quality assurance of the verification process and providing Performance Statements for both stages.

EMEC will continue to work with CorPower to incorporate the learning from these tests into the development of their next generation WEC technology via the WaveBoost project, the center said.

Over at EMEC’s Billia Croo wave energy test site, Wello’s Penguin wave energy device has safely remained on site since installation in March 2017, having survived several storms and waves of over 18 meters proving the survivability of the technology.

As part of the H2020 CEFOW project, Wello launched the next iteration of its Penguin WEC into the water in Tallinn, Estonia earlier in December 2018, which is due to be towed to EMEC next year to be deployed alongside the existing Penguin.

EMEC welcomed Magallanes Renovables back to Orkney in September 2018, having tested a previous version of their technology in Scotland back in 2014. Final commission of the company’s 2MW floating tidal energy platform and site preparations are underway, according to EMEC, which anticipates Magallanes’ ATIR platform be deployed at the Fall of Warness site as part of the Horizon2020 funded OCEAN_2G project in 2019.

A significant highlight for tidal energy industry in 2018 was watching Orbital Marine Powerpreviously Scotrenewables Tidal Power – hit the 3GWh generation milestone in just 12 months of testing at EMEC, the center said.

The record-breaking SR2000 turbine in Orkney (Photo: Orbital Marine Power)

During this time the SR2000 was supplying the equivalent annual electricity demand of around 830 UK households, and at times supplied over 25% of Orkney’s electricity demand.

The SR2000 has now been removed from the site to make way for an optimized production model – the Orbital O2. The new turbine model is planned for deployment at EMEC in 2020 as part of the Horzon 2020 FloTEC project.

Another highlight of the year was the deployment of Microsoft’s 450kW underwater data center at EMEC’s Billia Croo wave energy test site in June 2018. Led by Naval Group, the data center was installed by Green Marine, and is as powerful as several thousand high end consumer PCs, enough storage for approximately five million movies.

Deepwater cloud data center solutions deployments offer ready access to cooling, a controlled environment, and have the potential to be powered by co-located renewable power sources, EMEC said.

Microsoft datacenter (Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Orkney is also leading the way in hydrogen development, and is being viewed as an international example of how to develop a hydrogen economy.

EMEC is playing a vital role in Orkney’s story through its continued involvement in demonstration projects, and also through the center’s membership in Hydrogen Europe association. As a result, the message that hydrogen is key to the energy transition is gaining momentum and hydrogen is receiving significant political acknowledgement at a national and European level, according to EMEC.

EMEC hydrogen storage cylinders (Photo: Colin Keldie)

A key highlight in that regard for the center in 2018 was the launch of the €11 million Interreg North-West Europe, Integrating Tidal Energy into the European Grid (ITEG) project.

EMEC is leading this project to validate an integrated hydrogen production solution which will see an additional electrolyser installed at the Caldale site in Eday alongside Orbital Marine’s O2 2MW device due to be deployed at EMEC’s tidal test site in 2020.

As a reflection of growing local hydrogen economy and EMEC’s ambitions in hydrogen research in Orkney, the center has this year seen the intake of new staff dedicated to hydrogen development as it looks to further progress the green hydrogen initiative.

Commenting on the center’s activities, EMEC’s Managing Director Neil Kermode, said:

“I don’t think we could have hoped at the end of 2017 that within 12 months we would be able to show how marine renewables really works. 2018 saw Orbital Marine Power clearly show tidal energy supplying the community day after day, week after week. In effect one day per fortnight, for much of 2018, Orkney was running on tidal electricity. Amazing!

“And of course, it is not just Orbital. All the other technology developers listed above have pushed their boundaries, demonstrated ‘learning by doing’ and can now see more of their development curves ahead of them. I am delighted to see how EMEC has helped those successes and we look forward to, many, many more.

“So where is this all going in 2019? Clearly the uncertainties over the UK’s relationship with the EU remains a worry, but the threats of unaddressed climate change are even bigger.

“But, we now know we have some of the technology that can deliver a low carbon future whatever the political climate.

“We see that the coming months and years will provide enormous opportunities for EMEC, its suppliers and customers – provided the UK makes good on its promises to support innovation.”