Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Tidal innovations to be trialled in Scottish waters for next 20 years

S sr2000 being deployed at emec tidal test site credit scotrenewables hr

Tidal energy innovations will be tested in Scottish waters for another 20 years, after Crown Estate Scotland extended the current lease of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) testing site in Orkney, Scotland. 

EMEC has tested 19 different tidal turbine prototypes since the test facility was set up in 2007.

It will now be open to new turbine testing until 2040. 

The test site is situated off the coast of Eday, one of Orkney’s northern isles at the Fall of Warness. It has a powerful tide that makes it an ideal spot to test experimental tidal energy technology.  

Tidal flows reach up to 4m/s in the area. It is estimated that around 500M.t of water pass through the site every hour during spring tides. 

Demand for the site is high with Scottish developer Orbital Marine Power recently completing a round of testing with its SR1-2000 tidal turbine, designed with folding turbine blades for easy transport.

Spanish floating ATIR tidal turbine

Spanish floating ATIR tidal turbine

EMEC managing director Neil Kermode said the site would provide useful results on the effects of corrosion, survivability, and reliability of new devices.  

“Long term technology demonstration and operation will generate valuable learning for the whole industry, notably around corrosion, reliability and survivability of devices, components and subsystems,” he said.

“Even as the sector begins to commercialise, we believe that there will still be demand to have a test ground to improve efficiency and reduce costs even further.” 

Orbital Marine Power chief executive officer Andrew Scott said the site was “instrumental” to the tidal sector.  

“EMEC has been instrumental for the whole tidal sector for over a decade, and that includes ourselves where their facilities and services have enabled us to prove our engineering and technology in a grid connected, real-life environment through the pioneering test programmes.”

Orbital Marine Power recently unveiled the design for its next tidal turbine, the Orbital O2 which will be undergoing tests at the Fall of Warness site (see video below). 

Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Michael Thorn

    A means to harness the energy of ocean waves or tidal currents has been pursued for at least the past 50 years. The concept is straightforward and the means is not difficult to envisage in principle. The real challenge is the maritime environment in which these machines need to work and survive. Surface floating devices, and their anchors, need to withstand the most extreme wave climate that their location experiences: and ruggedness comes at a substantial cost. Submerged tidal turbines have a better chance of survival, especially if they are mounted on the seabed and not suspended from the surface. However, as any marine hydrographer will know, the enemies of submerged rotating devices are seaweed, barnacles, limpets, plastic bags and other ocean debris. It is the practical, workable application of design concepts that poses the greatest challenge.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.