Scottish wave power will drive Japanese recovery

Renewable energy experts will assist Japan develop alternative infrastructure. Picture: Jane Barlow
Renewable energy experts will assist Japan develop alternative infrastructure. Picture: Jane Barlow
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SCOTTISH renewable energy experts have been signed up to help Japan develop an alternative power infrastructure in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) will collaborate on setting up a similar wave and tidal power test facility in Japan.

Emec has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ocean Energy Association of Japan (OEAJ), which could see it providing advice and support on the design, set up and operation of the Japanese Marine Energy Centre.

Following the meltdown of several reactors at Fukushima in the wake of the tsunami – a year ago tomorrow – Japan is trying to reduce its reliance on nuclear power.

The partnership will play an integral role in Japan’s focus on developing viable renewable energy generation schemes on a large scale as an alternative to both nuclear and fossil fuel based electricity.

Richard Morris, Emec’s commercial director, said: “The need to address future sustainable energy generation requirements has been accelerated in Japan, for which there is wide-ranging support from within government and across the country’s industry leaders.

“Emec is uniquely placed in terms of providing consultancy support to countries wishing to set up marine energy test sites and this is an excellent opportunity for Scotland to assist and work alongside our colleagues in Japan, identifying synergies to boost this new and exciting industry for the benefit of the country and its economy.”

Emec’s involvement in the development further strengthens a close working relationship already established with Japan, which has in the past year seen Kawasaki Heavy Industries confirm that it will test a newly-developed tidal energy system at its Orkney facilities.

The centre, set up in 2003 with £30 million of public funding, has branched out into international consultancy in recent years. In December, Emec agreed a contract with Ocean University of China to help establish a wave-testing centre.

The company says its full-scale wave and tidal testing facilities on Orkney have supported the deployment of more grid-connected devices than any other single site in the world.

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International (SDI), said: “Scotland is globally recognised in the marine energy sector and this memorandum is further testament to our appeal as a partner of choice in ambitious world-leading projects.”

SDI worked with both Emec and OEAJ to identify and facilitate the collaboration opportunity between the organisations.

MacColl said the agreement to work together provided an excellent foundation for Scotland to build relationships with Japanese partners, giving the Scottish marine energy sector an extra competitive edge and ultimately “driving home wealth” for the Scottish economy.