Milestone as Scots-built wave energy machine commences sea trials in Orkney

A giant wave energy machine has started sea trials in Orkney marking a milestone for the ambitious green power project.

Mocean Energy said its 20-metre long, 38-tonne Blue X wave machine had been towed from Kirkwall to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)’s Scapa Flow test site where it has been successfully moored and commissioned for initial sea trials.

Later this summer, Blue X will be moved to EMEC’s grid connected wave test site at Billia Croo on the west coast of Orkney where it will go through its paces in more rigorous full sea conditions.

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Cameron McNatt, managing director at Mocean Energy, said: “This is a very exciting moment as we put our first prototype to test at sea. Following successful installation on Friday, Blue X generated its first power and continued to generate power, charging batteries, throughout the weekend.

Mocean Energy Blue X in operation at the EMEC Scapa Flow wave energy test site. Picture: Colin Keldie

“In the Scapa testing phase, we will test power production, comparing results against our numerical predictions, and we will test operations including towing, installation, removal, and access at sea.

“We believe our technology is ideally suited to a number of offshore operations, where it can make a direct contribution to net zero goals. Longer-term, we think grid-scale machines will be able to tap into deep ocean waves to generate significant quantities of clean energy”

The deployment and demonstration of the wave machine at EMEC is being funded by Wave Energy Scotland and supported by Interreg North-West Europe’s Ocean DEMO project.

Tim Hurst, managing director of Wave Energy Scotland, said: “This test programme coincides with the real prospect of a UK market support mechanism for marine energy, which could enable Britain’s wave and tidal sector to take a global lead at a time when the whole world is seeking new ways to create a net zero future.

“This is technology developed right here in Scotland, supported by a mature UK supply chain that can exploit the huge global market potential for wave energy and bring significant economic benefits.”

Neil Kermode, manging director at EMEC, added: “Congratulations to the Mocean Energy team on the safe installation of the Blue X wave energy converter at EMEC’s Scapa Flow demonstration site. This successful operation is the culmination of many weeks of hard work and planning by Mocean Energy, EMEC and Leask Marine; we’re now eager to see how it begins its work up in the initially gentle wave climate at Scapa prior to the next stage sea trials at Billia Croo.”

Earlier this year, Mocean Energy announced a £1.6 million project with OGTC, oil major Chrysaor (now newly formed Harbour Energy) and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to demonstrate the potential of the Blue X prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle – using onshore testing at EC-OG’s Aberdeen facility.

The Blue X wave machine was fabricated in Scotland by Fife fabricator AJS Production and painted by Montrose-based Rybay Corrosion services. Numerous hardware and services were supplied by organisations which have developed capabilities though the WES programme, including the University of Edinburgh which supplied its CGEN generator, Supply Design and Blackfish Engineering Design.

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