Neil Kermode - EMEC

Neil Kermode, managing director (Photo: Tom O’Brien, Orkney Media Group-courtesy of EMEC) Neil Kermode, managing director (Photo: Tom O’Brien, Orkney Media Group-courtesy of EMEC)

When travelling abroad we need to pack electrical plug adaptors but with wave and tidal energy expected to become a global industry, developers also have to consider, will my device plug in in foreign lands?

For Neil Kermode, Managing Director at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, the inevitability of marine energy becoming a global industry means now is the time for collaboration to set standards ensuring devices tested at EMEC are immediately marketable anywhere, without expensive and time consuming re-validation.

With a background at the Environment Agency and tidal energy development, Neil is a passionate advocate for a sustainable energy future with a clear vision of marine energy’s long-term future. Talking exclusively to MJ, he states the importance of establishing sound footings at this early stage to ensure the industry is prepared for global growth.

A workshop organised recently by EMEC attracted delegates from test centres across Europe, Asia and North America, all committing to coordinate procedures and standards to ensure consistency in testing marine energy converters worldwide. Mr Kermode was encouraged by the will shown by various countries: “These countries recognise the value in the work that has taken place in the UK and are waking up to the potential off their own shores. The UK no longer has exclusive leadership rights in the development of marine energy”.

“David Cameron was recently quoted saying that he wants to see the UK maintain its world-leading position in marine renewables, and to harness the economic and environmental benefits that it brings. To have such support from the UK Government, as well as at the Scottish and EU levels, is great, but we must not take our foot off the pedal. Consistent investment is crucial for the UK to reap the long-term benefits that we are already seeing on a small scale here in Orkney: good quality jobs, a knowledgeable supply chain, and significant infrastructure improvements.”

Mr Kermode speaks realistically about the state of the industry: “I think a degree of realism has broken out about the scale of what we are trying to achieve, we’re working in some of the harshest marine environments, generally avoided by other industries. But we have proved that you can generate electricity from both waves and tides, and we know one day marine energy will be needed within the energy mix. When it is, it will be the country with the strong home market that will dominate the market globally.”

“We have only been tackling it with serious intent for around ten years, and that’s not long relative to many other industries. We are currently between the ‘hey I’ve got an idea’ and the ‘Eureka we are making money’ stages. Continued focussed drive, with further political support will see this new use of the sea bring home real wealth for generations to come.”

By Peter Barker 

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