The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), based in Orkney, has signed a ground-breaking agreement with the West of Orkney Windfarm to kick-start a major research and innovation (R&I) programme – tasked with increasing the competitiveness of the windfarm and enhancing R&I capacity in the north of Scotland.
Rights to develop the 2-gigawatt West of Orkney Windfarm were secured in January by a joint venture consisting of Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG). The project will be located 30 km off the west coast of Orkney and aims to start producing renewable power by 2030.
EMEC has been at the forefront of marine renewable energy innovation for almost 20 years, demonstrating a range of technologies from wave and tidal energy to green hydrogen and subsea data centres. Building upon its core strengths in technical research programme delivery, this partnership will be the first with a large-scale, commercial offshore wind farm and will support further diversification of the organisation.
The West of Orkney Windfarm R&I programme will be tasked with identifying ways to deliver the project more efficiently and cost effectively. These will cover a broad range of challenges, including the exposed location, environmental impacts and increased remote operations.
EMEC will review the offshore wind R&I landscape, mapping this against the needs of the project and capabilities across the region. This will inform the development of a long-term project-specific R&I programme which EMEC will deliver in collaboration with a range of stakeholders including the local supply chain.
This initial work programme with EMEC is part of a wider West of Orkney Windfarm initiative to support the offshore wind supply chain locally, in Scotland and across the UK. This will be enabled by a £105 million project-level investment initiative that will be enhanced to £140 million by third parties, in advance of a Final Investment Decision in 2026.
Mike Hay, General Manager of the West of Orkney Windfarm said:
“EMEC and Orkney have become synonymous with pathfinder projects leading the way in renewable energy production.
“This partnership programme enables us to draw on EMEC’s considerable expertise and will ensure that local experience and data feeds into the project, building upon the cluster of business and academia that are active in the north of Scotland. Importantly, it will also inform how the West of Orkney Windfarm can be delivered faster, cheaper and at lower risk.
“At the same time, the programme will leverage EMEC’s network and experience to deliver local content and actively promote economic growth. We hope that EMEC’s unique status will enable the partners to identify new opportunities and attract additional funding, amplifying the investment from the West of Orkney Windfarm and its partners.”
Matthew Finn, Commercial Director, EMEC said:
“EMEC has been working with the West of Orkney Windfarm team for the past two years to support the early developmental phases of the project.
“Orkney and its surrounding waters present a clear opportunity to deliver significant amounts of carbon free and truly sustainable power. This new phase of work will allow us to help the existing supply chain build operational capacity and scale up activities.
“EMEC has been gathering data around the west coast of Orkney for the last 20 years and delivered a wide range of R&D projects for green offshore technologies, so we can feed our learning into the windfarm development. With the West of Orkney Windfarm just 30 km west of EMEC’s Billia Croo test site, we believe it provides an ideal pathway for emerging technologies to scale up and move out into the harsh waters around us.”
Pictured left to right: Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC; Jack Farnham, Development Director, RIDG; Philippe de Cacqueray, Head of Offshore Wind UK, TotalEnergies; Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands MSP; Andrew Mill, Chair, EMEC; Mark Giulianotti, Head of Corporate Finance and Origination, Europe, Corio Generation – pictured at EMEC in December 2021.