Heriot-Watt has been awarded a key role in an ambitious new project that aims to advance the technology of multi-use marine platforms (MUPs) while delivering sustainable development to island and coastal communities.
The International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) based at the University's Orkney campus in Stromness is part of the €9 million EU H2020 funded MUSICA project.
Over the next five years, the project will design and build a pilot multi-use offshore platform in European waters capable of providing 70% of the electricity and all fresh water to a small island community. All the energy used will be captured from renewable sources including wind, wave and PV solar. Fresh water will be desalinated seawater using green electricity from the platform. Aquaculture operations will also be based around the platform and draw energy supplies from it.
Heriot-Watt will contribute research into the social and economic impacts of the project and develop a safety strategy for offshore working on multi-use platforms, which in the future could embrace many diverse marine industries including renewable energy, aquaculture, seawater desalination, seaweed farming and even offshore oil and offshore container ship hubs. ICIT has a wealth of experience in the Blue Economy and have been closely involved with the emerging policy for multi-use platforms.
Dr Kate Johnson from the ICIT who is leading the Heriot-Watt contribution of the project, said: “This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of technologies which may transform island and coastal economies and advance ambitions for the Blue Economy.”
MUSICA stands for Multiple Use of Space for Island Clean Autonomy and involves 15 partners from seven EU Member States. It is targeting small islands with populations of up to 2000 inhabitants in the first instance as these communities currently pay disproportionately high costs for electricity and water from outside sources - often with poor or intermittent supply. The project will also include the preparation of 'roadmap' plans for larger island groups including Malta, Gran Canaria and Chios.
The MUSICA Project is funded under the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme and supports EU maritime policy for sustainable 'Blue Growth'. A feature of this policy is the investigation of multi-use offshore platforms combining diverse marine industries. The aim of the policy is to save the use of marine space, and hence the environment, and to reduce operating costs through the sharing of infrastructure and services. MUSICA is among the first full scale trials of the concept. It is also of interest to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) initiative of the United Nations (UN).