Sustainable Marine Energy moves into Orkney tidal test bay with £1.3m Scot-Govt. grant

Sustainable Marine Energy's PLAT-O tidal generator
Sustainable Marine Energy’s PLAT-O tidal generator

By DARA BUTTERFIELD

Sustainable Marine Energy (SME) Ltd has been awarded £1.3m by the Scottish Government to make a strategic move into the Scottish tidal energy sector, signing a long term testing contract with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd.

SME will be taking on one of the berths at the Fall of Warness tidal test site  in Orkney, where it will deploy five PLAT-O systems in an array over the next two years. This array will host SCHOTTEL SIT turbines and will deliver almost 1MW capacity.

To deliver this programme Dave Thomson of Orcades Marine is joining the company as Operations Manager. Dave, who is based in the new SME office in Hatston, Kirkwall, has been involved with SME for over a year, managing the marine operations for the testing of the first PLAT-O at an Isle of Wight test site. SME’s team of 15 people will be split between East Cowes, Isle of Wight and Kirkwall, Orkney.

Jason Hayman, Managing Director, SME, said: “This has been the result of many months of work and I would like to thank Scottish Enterprise, EMEC and all the SME team for their hard work and support. At a time when commentators are talking the industry down, we can demonstrate that there is a new cost effective model to watch.”

Sustainable Marine Energy's PLATO device deployed at sea
Sustainable Marine Energy’s PLATO device deployed at sea

PLAT-O is a moored, buoyant platform that is positioned mid-water column. It provides a comprehensive systems integration solution, exporting grid-compatible power from multiple tidal energy converters.

It sits under the surface of the water and offers a number of other benefits including enhanced yield and survivability due to its position in the water column, which also ensures that surface vessels can pass safely overhead. Besides a surface marker buoy, the system is not visible on the surface. A 100kW PLAT-O prototype is currently undergoing testing, initially off the Isle of Wight, and will be grid-connected at EMEC during 2015.

Fergus Ewing, Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, said: “We welcome Sustainable Marine Energy to Scotland with its commitment to the Scottish economy. As a government we are glad to provide them with the support they need to develop their business in Scotland.”

Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC, added: “Sustainable Marine Energy plan to deliver the first tidal array at the Fall of Warness which will be a major milestone for EMEC. We look forward to working with them over the years to come.”

David Thomson, incoming Operations Director, SME, said: “Having worked with SME, I really believe they have a winning model and I am delighted to be joining them as Operations Director. We will be busy in Orkney for the next couple of years and after that in the wider market.”

Sustainable Marine Energy has been supported by investment from private investors, the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, the Angel Co Fund, alongside grant funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Innovate UK, the Low Carbon KEEP Programme, the Solent Offshore Renewable Energy Consortium, Future Solent’s Green Growth Fund.

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