Nursery test site

Scale test sites

Accessible, flexible open water sites

EMEC’s clients benefit from a range of ready-made and cost-minimising test and demonstration facilities in major wave and tidal resources. Significant infrastructure investments have been made to make it as easy as possible for technology developers to learn by doing, with full confidentiality of performance data.

In addition to EMEC’s grid-connected sites, EMEC also offers real-sea test sites in the less challenging conditions of Scapa Flow and Shapinsay Sound. These sites provide a more flexible sea space helping close the gap from tank testing, and acting as a stepping stone towards larger scale projects. Such accessible real sea testing enables marine energy developers and suppliers to learn lessons more cheaply, reducing the need for big vessels or large plant.

If you are interested in using any of EMEC’s testing facilities, please contact us.


Our non-grid connected test sites are situated adjacent to the Orkney mainland: Click here to view a map of the test sites.

Scapa Flow Wave Test Site

The site in Scapa Flow, to the south of Kirkwall, was chosen for its relatively benign waters which reach almost 0.35m significant wave height. A predominantly westerly wave regime in 21m-25m water in an area 0.4km across and approximately 0.9km in length.

Shapinsay Sound Tidal Test Site

In the Shapinsay Sound, to the north-east of Kirkwall, fairly benign velocity marine currents with a peak tide of 1.5m/s. A full tidal regime in 21m-25m water in an area 0.4km across and approximately 0.9km in length.

Site Infrastructure

Test support buoys

At each of our non-grid connected test sites, we offer developers the use of a bespoke test support buoy. If required, the device under test will be connected to the test support buoy via two umbilical cables: one for power transmission and the other for control and communications. These buoys can relay data by wireless technology allowing developers to monitor performance remotely, as well as dissipating electricity generated by the device. The buoys are also equipped to supply the marine energy devices on test with power and act as navigational aids.

Berth and lay-down area

EMEC holds an overarching site licence, simplifying the consent process within an agreed envelope of activity. Each test site comprises one berth with pre-laid foundation and attachment points, and adjacent ‘blank’ test area. The pre-laid foundations comprise 5m x 5m x 2m gravity-base frames loaded with densecrete blocks for equipment moorings. An area of seabed is also available for rehearsal or deployment of other tools and techniques.


Developers are able to choose between the following berth utilisation possibilities:

  • Use the leased area, providing own moorings and power dissipation
  • Use the leased area and EMEC moorings but providing own power dissipation
  • Use the leased area, EMEC moorings and EMEC test support buoy
Sites are also suitable for, but not limited to, the following activities:
  • Device testing
  • Component testing
  • New tools, techniques & supply chain solutions
  • Monitoring corrosion, biofouling & acoustic instrument packages
  • Anchoring, cabling, subsea hub & wet-mate connectors
  • Installation tests
  • Rehearsal activities
  • Testing ROV’s & vessel activities
  • Operation & maintenance tests
  • Training
  • Health & safety procedures
  • Decommissioning trials
  • Research projects


The latest client to use one of these sites was Nautricity, a tidal energy developer. Robbie Macdonald, Project Engineer, provides some insight into their real sea testing experience with EMEC in the following case study:

Environmental monitoring

The sites’ energy resources have been assessed using surface-mounted waverider buoys with integral downward pointing acoustic doppler profiler (ADCP) measuring currents respectively. Multibeam sonar, sub-bottom profiling and magnetometer surveys of both sites have also been completed, with further environmental surveys currently underway.







Aquamarine Power


Atlantis Resources Corporation






Open Hydro






ScottishPower Renewables



Sustainable Marine Energy

Sustainable Marine Energy


Voith Hydro


Wello Oy

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