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Atlantic Colleges Establish International Marine Energy Partnership

An EU-funded project aims to establish a marine energy research hub in the north of Scotland, with international support and recognition.

Establishing a marine energy innovation hub in Scotland

The recent International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) in Halifax, Canada provided members of the EU-funded MERIKA project with the opportunity to form new partnerships with researchers and institutions on the other side of the Atlantic. MERIKA, run by the University of the Highlands and the Islands (UHI) in the north of Scotland, aims to establish a marine energy research and innovation hub in one of the remotest regions of Europe.

At the conference, which sought to share knowledge and information about marine renewable energy research, MERIKA identified the Institute of Ocean Energy at Acadia University, the College of the North Atlantic and the Nova Scotia Community College as having complementary interests. Reinforcing international collaboration with stakeholders from across the marine energy sector is a key objective of the project, along with building research capacity and upgrading infrastructure at the UHI Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering.

Indeed, the project, due for completion in July 2017, revolves around turning the UHI Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering into a reference research and innovation hub for all of Europe on the theme of marine energy. This will enable research to be carried out where key resources – plenty of wind and waves – are to be found. The oceans represent a vast and largely untapped source of energy in the form of surface waves, fluid flow, salinity gradients, and thermal.

In this way, the project, working alongside seven other European scientific institutions, will tap the huge potential of wind and wave power in the north of Scotland. This will help the country achieve energy security, economic development and environmental sustainability.

This has become a key policy. The Scottish government recently outlined plans to meet 100 % of electricity demand through renewable resources by 2020. And because the vast majority of suitable resources for wave and tidal technologies are located off the coast of Scotland’s Highland and Isles region, the MERIKA project is set to play a crucial role in making this objective a reality.

The University of the Highlands and Islands, although relatively remote, is perfectly placed to meet these challenges. The institution has already established itself as a respected centre of expertise within Europe’s research community. MERIKA represents an opportunity to build on this reputation for excellence and become a key global renewable marine energy reference centre.

Indeed, if Scotland is to reach its renewable energy goals, research is urgently needed to improve forecast techniques and install equipment that can source energy efficiently within a well preserved environment.

MERIKA is also very much in line with the EU’s goal of achieving 20 % of energy from renewable sources by 2020. More renewable energy will enable the EU to cut greenhouse emissions and make it less dependent on imported energy, in addition to boosting the renewables industry and encouraging technological innovation.

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