EMEC Wraps Concept Design for 100MW Floating Wind Test Site Near Orkney

(OED) The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), located in Orkney, Scotland, has completed the concept design for a new 100 MW floating offshore wind test and demonstration site.

The ocean energy test facility operator is seeking to secure a lease for a site ~20 km west of Orkney, further out to sea from its existing wave energy test facility at Billia Croo.

EMEC’s proposed test site will have six berths for floating offshore wind turbines with rated capacities of up to 20MW.

The site will provide floating wind developers with representative metocean conditions to those in ScotWind, Celtic Seas, and future lease rounds, with water depths of 80-95 meters, large waves, and a mean windspeed of 10.7 m/s.

Four of the six berths will be grid-connected, while the final two berths will be reserved for alternative applications such as hydrogen generation.

“Following extensive research and engagement with industry, the site setup and configuration has been fine-tuned to dovetail the sector’s existing and future requirements, with more than 25 GW of floating wind due to be deployed in UK waters over the next 20 years,” EMEC said.

According to EMEC, the site has been designed specifically for floating wind developers to de-risk their technologies, putting turbines, floating structures, moorings and other components to the test in an energetic offshore environment. This will enable performance to be refined on a wide range of floating wind technologies prior to commercial scale-up and build-out, EMEC said.

“As well as being a catalyst for floating wind R&D and innovation, the test site will make full use of Scapa Flow and plans for it to become an offshore wind hub, supporting future job creation and supply chain development. This will help capture and retain economic benefit from commercial offshore wind projects in Orkney and the Highlands and Islands,” EMEC said.

EMEC said it would provide the site management, technical, and supply chain link-up support required to allow developers to focus more intently on developing and demonstrating their technologies.

Xodus Group (Xodus) has provided expert support through the initial design phases and both parties are working to establish a longer-term collaboration with the award-winning X-Academy initiative, ensuring that the facility plays a key role in developing the skills needed to grow the sector, EMEC said.

Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC said: “Floating wind will have a large role to play in our future energy mix so we’re gearing up to support development of the sector. We’re looking at how we can use our existing testing infrastructure for floating wind subsystem testing, as well as developing a new test site to enable full-scale demonstrations ahead of commercial deployments around Scotland.

“Floating wind is still in relative infancy with limited experience globally of deploying and operating technologies in high energy conditions. EMEC’s new demonstration site will provide developers with a highly comparable testing ground to proposed project locations prior to large-scale roll out. This testing will enable companies to de-risk projects helping to satisfy technical due diligence requirements and make financing easier and cheaper.

“We know the demand is there, we’ve had a stream of requests over the last few years from wind developers seeking a test site to help them commercialise their technologies, so this feels like the natural next step in the evolution of EMEC. Having hosted more wave and tidal energy technologies at EMEC than anywhere else in the world, we’re well versed in running offshore testing grounds for renewable energy.

“For Scotland to be ready for ScotWind, we need to be testing these technologies and developing our supply chains now.”

Peter Tipler, Managing Director at X-Academy said: “EMEC’s ambition to create a floating wind test site has been a great innovation project for Xodus to support and will be key to de-risking the sector for decades to come. There’s a huge opportunity here for Orkney to capitalise on the ScotWind developments and become a base for supply chain and assembly.

“As EMEC has demonstrated with the operation of its wave and tidal testing infrastructure, and more recently hydrogen demonstration projects, a floating wind test site will act as a catalyst for jobs, skills and supply chain development helping to retain economic benefit locally. The sector faces a massive ramp-up in demand for skilled individuals to work in the sector. A key opportunity that we’re keen to explore is the use of the test site as part of our X-Academy programme, providing Xcellerators (programme participants) first-hand experience on real projects as part of their training.”