Mocean Energy's Blue X arrives in Orkney prior to sea trials

Mocean Energy’s Blue X wave energy prototype has been unloaded at Hatston Pier, in Kirkwall, Orkney, ahead of advanced sea trials held at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) Scapa Flow test site.

Mocean Energy Blue X at Hatston Pier. Picture: Colin Keldie, courtesy of EMEC

The 20-metre long, 38-tonne wave machine has been fabricated wholly in Scotland and was transported by road from Rosyth to Aberdeen and then by ship to Orkney.

In the coming days Blue X will undergo trials in Kirkwall Harbour prior to being towed anticlockwise around Orkney to Copland’s Dock, Stromness.

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The machine will then be deployed at EMEC’s Scapa Flow test site for sea trials initially, and then later will move to the grid-connected wave test site at Billia Croo, on the west coast of Orkney.

The deployment and demonstration of the Blue X at EMEC is being supported by £3.3 million from Wave Energy Scotland (WES) - the body established in 2014 to ensure the country maintains a leading role in the development of marine energy - through their Novel Wave Energy Converter programme.

Blue X provides learning for both Mocean Energy’s small-scale product line Blue Star and its utility scale product line, Blue Horizon, which aims to deliver reliable green energy to transmission networks around the world.

Mocean Energy’s managing director Cameron McNatt said: “This is a significant moment for Mocean Energy as our first prototype moves towards operations at sea – where all of our computer modelling, design and engineering will be put to the test.

“Our programme at EMEC will allow us to prove our concept at sea, particularly that its novel hull shapes will produce more power than traditional raft designs.

“We are working with Orkney-based partners including EMEC, Leask Marine, Heddles, Orkney Harbour Authority, and Orcades Marine, each of which has significant experience in testing at sea and operating in Orkney, and we very much look forward to learning with them.

“This demonstration of credible wave technology is the culmination of years of work and I am extremely grateful to Wave Energy Scotland for providing the funding and support which has allowed us to reach this point, and to the Ocean DEMO project for supporting the demonstration at EMEC.

“Our test programme coincides with the real prospect of a UK market support mechanism for marine energy, which could enable Scotland’s wave and tidal sector to take a global lead at a time when the whole word is seeking new ways to create a net zero future.”

Neil Kermode, managing director at EMEC, added: “A very warm welcome to the Mocean Energy team to Orkney.

“We are looking forward to supporting Mocean’s testing programme here at EMEC over the coming months.

“The staged approach which has been followed to develop the Blue X device through the WES programme will be continued as it is firstly put through its paces at our smaller-scale, ‘gentler’ test site in Scapa Flow, prior to being subjected to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean at Billia Croo.

“Getting metal wet and testing technologies for prolonged periods is vital to prove performance, reliability and survivability, as well as how to install, operate, maintain and decommission such structures.

“With more technologies tested here in Orkney than anywhere else in the world, we’ve built up a repertoire of knowledge which can be shared to aid Mocean Energy’s journey, and I’m very interested to see how the Blue X performs and what lessons it will learn.”

The machine was fabricated in Scotland by Fife fabricator AJS Production and painted by Montrose-based Rybay Corrosion services.

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