The role of EMEC, the world’s leading test facility for wave and tidal energy


Image by Colin Keldie

By Carly Tait, Project Manager, EMEC

The team at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) are really excited to be working on the WEDUSEA project. The pioneering WEDUSEA project is setting out to prove the commercial viability of wave energy and, as the world’s first and leading test facility for demonstrating wave and tidal energy converters, EMEC will play a pivotal role.

Established in Orkney in 2003, EMEC is the world’s leading accredited test laboratory and inspection body for demonstrating wave and tidal energy converters, subsystems and components in real sea conditions. As an innovation catalyst, EMEC is supporting the transition to a low carbon future, reducing the time, cost and risk in offshore R&D.

To date, more marine energy converters have been deployed in Orkney, Scotland, than at any other single site in the world, with 22 wave and tidal energy clients (from 11 countries) having tested 35 marine energy devices.

EMEC is committed to supporting the transition to net zero and we have expanded activities into other sectors including green hydrogen, floating wind, clean transport and energy systems.

For wave and tidal energy converters, EMEC offers purpose-built, open-sea testing facilities for prototype technologies. We operate two grid-connected, accredited test sites – the Fall of Warness tidal test site and Billia Croo wave test site – where larger prototypes are put through their paces. We also provide two scale test sites where smaller scale devices, or those at an earlier stage in their development, can gain real sea experience in less challenging conditions.

Attracting developers from around the globe, EMEC’s facilities help to prove what is achievable in some of the harshest marine environments while in close proximity to sheltered waters and harbours. At our test sites, technology developers learn how to install and maintain their technologies, as well as how machines, subsystems (such as moorings) and components, all the way down to the nuts and bolts, operate, perform and survive in challenging sea states.

Role in the WEDUSEA project

The OE35 device will deploy at EMEC’s grid-connected Billia Croo wave test site in Orkney. The OE35 device will be demonstrated at the site over two winter periods, so that it is tested in the most challenging Atlantic sea conditions.

EMEC is leading on environmental monitoring and impacts. We will provide metocean, bathymetry and geophysical data to feed into the design criteria for the wave energy converter device and facilitate planning of offshore operations.

The deployment at EMEC’s Billia Croo site will enable collection of valuable data on performance and environmental impact. This will include a series of field campaigns spanning underwater and airborne acoustics, biophysical assessment of wave dynamics, fish aggregation and seabird analysis, assessing the potential interactions between local species and technology operation. This data will build on existing environmental studies to provide regulators with improved understanding and reduced uncertainty around environmental impacts of wave energy.

As an accredited test facility, we can offer independent, internationally recognised performance assessment of ocean energy devices (UKAS Accredited – ISO 17025) and independent technical inspection to confirm that technologies satisfy conceptual reliability, survivability and performance targets (UKAS Accredited – ISO 17020). Such assessments ensure that project installations adhere to IEC international standards, verifying the methodologies used, and supporting technical development pathways towards certification. In the WEDUSEA project, this will provide OceanEnergy with third party assurance and credibility to claims being made to investors and funders on the performance of the power performance of the wave energy converter and the mooring systems.

The impact of EMEC

By providing world class testing and data collection and analysis, EMEC will enable WEDUSEA to achieve its goal of proving the commercial viability of wave energy. Its innovative research will also help build global understanding of the environmental impacts of wave energy, helping ensure that wave energy is a contributor to the health of our planet for generations to come.

We are thrilled to be part of the WEDUSEA partnership and look forward to helping make it a success, transforming the potential for the wave energy industry worldwide.

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Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are, however, those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.