The EMEC scale test sites (also commonly referred to as "nursery" sites) at Scapa Flow (wave test site) and Shapinsay Sound (tidal test site) were established to enable developers to test intermediate scale prototypes of their devices and rehearse installation techniques in more benign conditions than those found at the main grid-connected wave and tidal test sites. The scale site facilities are aimed at making it as easy as possible for developers to bring concepts and test them in accessible, real sea conditions, without the need for some of the larger vessels or plant used in the deployment of commercial-scale devices. The opportunity to introduce a streamlined consenting process has been key to the success of this facility.
Two consents are required for installation of marine energy converter devices at the scale test sites:
- Marine Licence issued by the Regulator, Marine Scotland.
- Harbour Works Licence issued by Orkney Islands Council (OIC).
EMEC has worked closely with Marine Scotland's Licencing Operations Team (MS-LOT) and its key environmental and navigational consultees, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB), to establish a streamlined consenting process for its nursery sites which is inclusive, proportionate, and timeous while still satisfying all relevant legislation. To this end, EMEC has been granted a 'generic' Marine Licence allowing an envelope of device types and operations to be installed/carried out at the scale sites. These generic licences have been issued in EMEC's name with EMEC, as the licensee, being responsible for ensuring that any licence conditions are complied with. For each new developer wishing to install at its scale sites, EMEC is required to submit an application for amendment of the generic Marine Licence to MS-LOT. This application must be accompanied by supporting documentation from the developer, outlining the proposed project and identifying any potential device-specific environmental and navigational risks, together with any proposed mitigation. MS-LOT typically requires 6-8 weeks from receipt of application to issue a licence amendment.
Similarly, EMEC has worked closely with OIC to establish a process whereby a generic Harbour Works Licence for the purpose of installing devices for testing has been granted to EMEC (the scale test sites are located within the Council Harbour Authority area). Under the terms of this licence, EMEC is required to give OIC at least 21 days’ notice of each new developer wishing to install at its scale sites.
For testing at the EMEC grid-connected test sites, developers are required to submit a Decommissioning Programme to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is subject to public consultation. This is not required of developers testing at the scale sites (EMEC will submit a Decommissioning Programme to DECC for removal of all infrastructure at the end of the site lifetime). However, each developer will be required to provide full details of their proposed device removal method within their supporting documentation for amendment of licences.