European Marine Energy Centre
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is a research centre focusing on wave and tidal power development based in the Orkney Islands, UK. It claims to provide developers with the opportunity to test full-scale grid-connected prototype devices in unrivalled wave and tidal conditions. The operations are spread over three sites:
  • Billia Croo, Mainland ( wave power)
  • Fall of Warness, off the island of Eday ( tidal power)
  • Stromness (office and data facilities)
EMEC was established by a grouping of public sector organisations following a recommendation by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in 2001. The centre offers, apart from access to water with high wave and tidal energy potential, various kinds of support regarding regulatory issues, grid connection and meteorological monitoring as well as local research and engineering support.

Wave power
EMEC’s wave test facility is placed on the western edge of the Orkney mainland, in an area with one of the highest wave energy potentials in Europe. The exposed North Sea location means the island group is subjected to the powerful dynamic forces of the North Atlantic Ocean. Construction of the wave test facility was completed in October 2003, and operational activities commenced shortly thereafter. The Centre's facilities consist of four test berths situated along the 50m water depth contour off Billia Croo, Stromness on the Orkney mainland (some 2 km offshore). A shallow water berth situated close to the substation is also currently under construction. The following have been installed or are expected to be so soon :
  • Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) installed their protoype Pelamis 750 device on site for full-scale testing in August 2004. This wave energy conversion machine was the first in the world to generate electricity into a grid system from offshore wave energy. To date PWP have continued to undertake various tests as part of their ongoing development programme. E.ON deployed and are currently testing a second-generation Pelamis P-2 device in conjunction with Pelamis Wave Power in 2010 .
  • AW Energy from Finland undertook stand-alone mechanical testing in 2005 in the shallower waters at the test site.
  • Aquamarine Power Ltd installed their Oyster wave power device on the seabed in August 2009 and generated electricity for the first time in November of the same year .
  • Ocean Power Technologies was scheduled to deploy their PowerBuoy in 2009, it is now expected in 2010.
The remaining berths are provisionally allocated pending contractual completion with other developers. Further infrastructure works continue at Billia Croo to provide a laydown area for future developers to use, similar to that already created at the tidal site. Other site works which have completed include an upgrade to the Black Craig lookout point, which includes the facilities for stationed wildlife observers. These trained observers and a high-spec camera will provide essential baseline data for the wave test site.

Tidal power
The tidal power test site at the Fall of Warness, to the west of the island of Eday, was chosen for its high velocity marine currents which reach almost 4m/sec (7.8 knots) at spring tides. The facility offers five test berths at depths ranging from 25m to 50m in an area 2 km across and approximately 4 km in length. From each developer berth, the subsea cables follow back along the seabed and then pass under the beach and into an external housing next to the substation. An adjacent laydown area then provides an optional area for developers to use conditioning equipment for converting from the level at which they are generate to grid compliant electricity. Underground ducts then connect the cables through to the switchboard in the substation building. The substation building has four separate areas: the HV switchroom, communications room, personnel room and the standby generator room. The test site was officially opened by Scotland's First Minister in September 2007. The first developer to use the site is Dublin based OpenHydro, who began the installation of their open centred turbine in 2006. Full testing is now underway, with their device becoming the first to be grid connected in Scotland and subsequently the first tidal stream generator to successfully generate electricity to the National Grid in the UK. OpenHydro are pleased with the outcome and are moving into the next phase of their testing. This has involved placing a blank turbine on the seabed adjoining their installed device, using the specially commissioned “OpenHydro Installer” in summer 2008. Tidal Generation Ltd were on site during 2008, undertaking preparation works for deploying their device in 2009. Hammerfest Strom UK Ltd has deployed an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) and turbulence meter at the site, preparatory to their device deployment in 2010. Other developers are planning preparation works, with deployments of further tidal turbines scheduled for 2009 and 2010. The wildlife observations at the test site which have been underway since June 2005 are continuing to provide essential baseline environmental data. Further baseline data gathering projects are planned to commence soon.

Marine industry standards
EMEC has coordinated the development of a suite of standards on behalf of the marine renewable energy industry. Each document has been progressed by a working group with individuals representing technology developers, regulators, academia, utilities, and project developers ”“ a true cross-section of the marine energy industry. These standards have recently been launched and are available free for download from the EMEC website: EMEC Standards.

Research and monitoring
For most developers coming to deploy at EMEC, installation at these facilities will be the first time their device has been in the open sea and grid connected. They typically will not have a track record which indicates the type and extent of interactions between the device and the receiving environment. Therefore, whilst the central purpose of EMEC is to provide an operational test facility, there is also a key role in establishing and facilitating monitoring of devices in relation to their impacts on the receiving environment. The main driver to this has been through the consenting process, which requires developers to consider environmental issues prior to testing at EMEC and to mitigate against any potential for negative impact. The involvement within the research field has led EMEC to occupy a unique position, having links with a range of different developers and devices, as well as academic institutions and regulatory bodies. However the nature of our business means that we are, and must remain, independent. This is key, as EMEC aims to ensure that different devices are monitored in a consistent way, using the best available methods. Furthermore, the dissemination of monitoring information can be carried out throughout the industry, regulatory bodies and their advisors, as appropriate. This will play a key role in the future commercial success of these devices and the industry.

Power Purchase Agreement
SmartestEnergy has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the EMEC, for the power generated from their wave and tidal devices in the Orkney Islands.