A wave and tidal power project in Orkney has been successful in obtaining £3 million of funding from the EU via the 'Fast Track' innovation scheme, which is designed to help promising renewable energy schemes to reach fruition. The funding will be shared between two test projects at Stromness's European Marine Energy Centre.
Tocardo, the Dutch green energy producer, will be testing a new wave and tidal system in live sea conditions at the centre. Magallanes, the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, will also be testing a new tidal energy platform.
The centre's managers said that these new test programmes showed how the wind and tidal energy sector was evolving in a new direction. The first technologies trialled in 2003 used expensive seabed mounting procedures, but these new schemes look at cheaper floating equipment, which costs less to install and then to service and maintain.
Oliver Wragg, EMEC's commercial director, said that the European funding could provide a vital boost to the overall wave and tidal energy sector by signalling an interesting proposition to private investors - something they have struggled with in the past. Pelamis and Aquamarine went into administration after failing to attract the necessary levels of funding.
The funding is also a particular achievement in the broader context of competition, as it was open to all industrial sectors in Europe. This means that the grant decision-makers were convinced of the sound business case for investing in wave and tidal testing for future commercialisation opportunities.
The European Marine Energy Centre is also preparing to test the world's largest and most powerful wave and tidal turbine at its research site in Orkney. The Scotrenewables platform will be installed later this year at the Fall of Warness grid test site.