Marine services briefing
The team that delivers a wide range of marine services in Orkney has been provided with a special briefing in preparation for a big increase in wave and tidal energy generation.
With the Scottish Government encouraging commercial-scale marine energy production in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters, 42 applications are under consideration from 20 bidders keen to join this green energy revolution.
When The Crown Estate announces the successful candidates, it is expected that some of the sea bed leases for wave and tidal devices will fall within Orkney harbour limits.
From their base at Scapa, staff at Orkney Islands Council’s Marine Services control room keep a close eye on these waters, which are used extensively by oil and gas tankers, cruise liners and other vessels.
Now a significant rise in marine activity linked to renewables is expected in the run-up to the deployment of “arrays” of wave and tidal energy devices, some of which are expected to be within the existing Orkney harbour area.
The special briefing was made to the Marine Services team by EMEC, the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre, and Stromness environmental consultants Aquatera.
“Our own test sites for wave and tidal technologies are already witnessing a steady growth in activity,” said EMEC managing director Neil Kermode.
“We expect that to increase in the months and years ahead, as more marine energy devices go into the water at the test sites, in the Pentland Firth and elsewhere in Orkney waters.”
Marine Services is already providing strong support to the sector. Tugs have been used to deliver and deploy marine energy devices, developers have made use of Orkney’s existing harbour facilities – and the council is investing 3 million (pounds) in developing Lyness as a marine renewables base.
“With Orkney’s capacity to deliver what the industry needs we were delighted to provide an inside view on where we believe this is all heading,” said Mr Kermode.
“We particularly believe the control room team at Scapa is well placed – and well equipped – to monitor this growth in activity, which reflects the huge potential for wave and tidal energy generation from the waters around our islands.”
Aquatera managing director Gareth Davies said: “We are already seeing plenty of activity out on the water linked to marine renewables, something that will ramp up considerably once the successful candidates for sea bed leases are announced by The Crown Estate.
“So it is heartening to see OIC Marine Services taking such a pro-active approach to the key role they can play in ensuring this growing activity is carried out both safely and successfully.”
The Scapa control room operates 24/7, monitoring marine activity and providing a wealth of information for shipping.
Director of Marine Services, Captain Nigel Mills, said: “Our team has a well deserved reputation for their skill and expertise in handling the considerable tanker activity we’ve witnessed in Orkney waters over more than three decades.
“That experience is also crucial in running other complex operations – everything from ship-to-ship transfers of oil and gas to the safe arrival and departure of giant cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers.
“It means we are well placed to help co-ordinate operations as activity linked to marine renewables increases in Orkney waters.
“With these waters seen as crucial to the Scottish Government’s plans for sustainable energy generation, we are determined to do all we can to nurture this emerging new industry.”