As part of the UK government’s Levelling Up initiative island communities around the UK will see a distribution of £4.6 million funding go towards vital transport links, helping to support local jobs and grow the economy. A further £3 million also awarded to Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre – the world’s first and leading wave and tidal energy testing facility. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove made the announcement in early May as local authorities from islands across the UK gathered for the fourth UK Islands Forum in Anglesey.

Ocean Energy Research Centre

Set up in 2003, the not-for-profit facility was developed following a recommendation by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to kick start a wave and tidal energy sector in the UK. Since its establishment, EMEC has become a key UK innovation centre, advancing ocean energy research, renewable integration, green hydrogen production, and storage solutions. The EMEC’s facilities were featured in a tour during the inaugural Islands Forum held in Orkney in 2022 and its latest funding will be spent over the next two years.


Oyster 1 wave power device in operation at Billia Croo (Image Aquamarine Power Ltd)


An economic impact assessment spanning two decades of EMEC’s operations values impact of the test centre to the UK economy at £370 million; £263 million of that was accrued in Scotland, and half of that, £130 million, in the Orkney Islands where EMEC is based. EMEC supports industry by reducing risk, costs, and deployment time for new technologies. It has contributed to R&D projects worth £538 million, enhancing efficiency in the renewable sector.

Expansion of facilities

The £3 million UK Government funding boost will support EMEC’s growth plans, aiding in achieving net zero ambitions, increasing innovation, R&D investment, and promoting green growth in island communities. Expansion plans include test facilities for tidal energy arrays and diversifying into green hydrogen, storage, offshore wind, and island decarbonisation projects.

Neil Kermode, EMEC’s Managing Director said “For the past 20 years, EMEC has driven the development of a marine energy sector in the UK to enhance the range of technologies available to decarbonise our energy mix and improve the robustness of the UK electricity system. We have facilitated innovation and investment in R&D through our test and demonstration sites for both ocean energy and other new innovative technologies, accelerating cost reduction, boosting domestic supply chain and manufacturing capability and readying the UK for scaling up.” 

“This activity has helped peripheral regions to capture the economic benefits of the energy transition, building on Orkney’s track record of being a lighthouse community for renewable energy generation.”

New collaborations further announced for EMEC

A three year between EMEC and FloWave has been announced to offer wave and tidal energy developers ‘try-before-you-buy’ site simulation capability. In addition, THREE60 will be collaborating closely with EMEC, delivering electrical services to support the demonstration of cutting-edge renewable energy projects. Leveraging its expertise in electrical engineering in both renewable energy technologies and project management, THREE60 will support EMEC in its mission to accelerate the deployment of marine energy technologies, including wave and tidal energy, in the European market.

Read more about the EMEC here.

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