Belgian marine experts test in Scottish waters as Brexit storm approaches

Nathanael Williams

Belgian wave-power consortium to test its new storm protection system off Orkney

A BELGIAN-LED wave power commercial group is testing a new “storm device” machine that protects tidal turbines from extreme weather.

As part of an EU Commission funded project, the tested device will be trialed at the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

However, ongoing fears linger that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union will jeopardise future engineering collaborations in Scotland.

EU defies UK cuts to Scots renewables with £20m grant to tidal project

A spokesman from Innosea, a French marine engineering company investing in Scottish renewables development told CommonSpace: “We had felt that the fundamentals are here in Scotland for good progress in cooperation for renewable technology and growth in the tidal industry.

“Brexit had made the situation awkward for many looking to engage in long-term investment.”

Innosea’s concerns follow the cuts and restrictions made to renewables subsidies by the UK Government whose stated aim is to “encourage the industry to grow free of state control.”

However advocates of renewables say that the market is naturally skewed towards fossil fuel which has enjoyed its own subsidy historically and up to the present day.

The consortium which is testing the storm protection device is led by Laminaria, a Belgian firm, in cooperation with the EMEC, Innosea, Ghent University, and TTI Testing. Its hopes are that the tests will make wave projects and machinery more robust in the face of rough weather and heavy seas.

Called the LAMWEC project it will feature a new type of anchor, weighing 270 tonnes, which stops damage to the tidal machine and can guard against rapid changes in the tide and pressure of the water.

Steven Nauwelaerts, Laminaria’s chief executive, said: “Our storm protection strategy allows the device to keep producing at nominal power during the heaviest of storms without undergoing excessive forces. The LAMWEC project will take a number of important steps to develop the Laminaria WEC and prove its survivability.”

Picture courtesy of Laminaria

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