The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has been named Blue Economy Enterprise of the Year having won the Rural Blue Award at The SHIREs (Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy) Awards.

Photo showing EMEC’s operations technician preparing waverider buoy for deployment (Courtesy of EMEC/Photo by Colin Keldie)
EMEC’s operations technician preparing waverider buoy for deployment (Courtesy of EMEC/Photo by Colin Keldie)

The SHIREs celebrate Scotland’s modern rural economy, from the traditional to the innovative.

Home to over two thirds of the UK’s coastline, the blue economy is a major part of the Highlands and Islands’ rural economy and the Rural Blue Award champions a range of sectors including aquaculture, tourism and energy.

EMEC’s pioneering vision for a net-zero future has put the Highlands and Islands on the global renewables map, having attracted attention from the world’s media, politicians, and even royalty.

The centre has also been working tirelessly to ensure that the UK government puts the required revenue support and R&D funding mechanisms in place to ensure the Highlands and Islands can take full advantage of its ocean energy resources.

Accepting the award on behalf of EMEC, its commercial director Matthew Finn said: “EMEC was set up to kick start an ocean energy sector in the UK and boost economic development in the Highlands and Islands. We’re passionate about what we do and are driven by the need to decarbonise our energy systems, here in Scotland, and further afield. We also need to ensure there is a just transition so that the rural parts of the country benefit from the renewables revolution.

“EMEC witnessed a significant increase of media interest over the last year in the run up to COP26. The eyes of the world are on us as other nations look to the example set here to accelerate their own renewables ambitions.

“It’s been an immense team effort to get to where we’re at – both by the team in EMEC, but also our clients and partners in the supply chain. There’s still a lot more work to be done and we’re really just getting started, but the motivation to help make a positive change in the world is core to what we do, and we truly appreciate the recognition for our efforts to demonstrate the clean energy system of the future”.

As the first and only accredited ocean energy test facility of its kind, EMEC has hosted more ocean energy technologies than anywhere else in the world.

Over the past five years EMEC’s strategy has been one of diversification and the company has grown from around 30 staff in 2017 to over 60 in 2021. EMEC has expanded beyond ocean energy, driving a wider R&D programme to develop a green hydrogen economy in Orkney, supporting various offshore wind projects and exploring the decarbonisation of the maritime and aviation sectors.

The R&D taking place at EMEC has instigated significant economic benefits to the Highlands and Islands including the creation of new jobs, investment and export opportunities, as well as supply chain and infrastructure developments.

EMEC generated approximately £306 million gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy between 2003 and 2019 – that includes £43.3 million GVA to the Highlands and Islands region alone, the centre said.

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