New £9.5m research facility set to aid marine energy development in UK

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The trade association of the wind waves and tidal energies has praised the University of Edinburgh's new marine energy centre, calling it a huge step in the development of renewable energies.

RenewableUK praised the FloWave Ocean Energy Research facility, which cost around £9.5m to develop, but is reported to be the first of its kind in the world, as it will enable researchers to test and develop all sorts of marine energy devices.

RenewableUK Wave and Tidal Development Manager, Dee Nunn, said: "The opening of Flowave adds a string to the bow of the UK's suite of test facilities for marine energy and will contribute to maintaining the world-leading position of the UK in this sector.

"The facility will help improve reliability and reduce costs and the results could provide additional confidence to investors as we move towards the first commercial arrays.

"The scale of opportunity for wave and tidal is huge with the potential to supply around 20% of the UK's current electricity demand and we hope this will encourage more investors to get their feet wet."

Due to its advanced design, the facility can simulate waves up to 28m high as well as generating tidal currents simultaneously.

It will be able to model complex sea conditions around Cornwall, the Western Isles and other areas likely to see marine energy developments.

Discussing the facility, Edinburgh University chair in renewable energy systems, Professor Robin Wallace, told BBC News: "It's representative of any UK coastal waters and most prime wave and tidal sites around the world.

"But it's not just for energy developers - anyone putting equipment into the sea could test their device here. For example, ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) manufacturers practising tow-outs, or floating offshore wind platforms."

Due to the sheer scope of opportunities with the research centre  it will be used to test full-scale wave and tidal energy converters as well as developing floating offshore wind platforms amongst other possibilities.

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