Research at ICIT

The Orkney Campus is recognised as a world leader in research and over the past 24 years, these studies and impacts have greatly shaped the development of Orkney's world class marine renewables sector.

The Orkney Campus is home to a multi-disciplinary research team whose focus has been the acceleration of the development of marine renewable energy, particularly in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters (PFOW) area.

Heriot-Watt University's Orkney Campus and research team is on a trajectory for growth, we are recruiting PhD and additional principal investigators to join our team. We will continue to foster innovation and develop relevant research impacts that enhance our local knowledge of the physical and environmental effects of wave and tidal devices, with the capability to transfer and de-risk projects internationally through our collaborations and associations.

Our contributions influence and directly impact our local and regionally economy as well as shaping policy internationally. Highlighted below are recent and soon to be launched projects and their respective impacts.

Economic Impacts

  • Research conducted by the Orkney Campus has led to the establishment of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and through its facilities and expertise, Orkney has become the international focus for marine renewables research.
  • Through a dozen company spin-outs the Orkney Campus has contributed £8.8m to the local Orkney economy, with the direct creation of 119 jobs (Biggar Economics, 2012 )
  • One example is Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd (SRTP) and associated companies in Orkney, who now employ over 25 people locally, having raised over £17m capital in the development of tidal turbine designs. The initial designs were developed during Barry Johnson's PhD research on the University's Orkney Campus and along with support from academic advisors to secure a Royal Society of Edinburgh / Scottish Enterprise fellowship for Barry to establish the start-up company Scotrenewables.

Policy and Licensing Impacts

Orkney Campus Research team collaborates through the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology in Scotland (MASTS) with other HEIs and Marine Scotland Science (MSS, the government agency responsible for giving scientific advice to the regulatory authority for the licensing of marine renewables developments). Both of the EPSRC Grand Challenge proposals, TeraWatt and EcoWatt2050, developed under the auspices of MASTS – have been designed to answer specific research questions posed by Marine Scotland Science and provide a vehicle for further development of Scottish Government strategic and consenting policy development for future marine renewables deployment, again focussed on cost efficiency and accelerating marine renewables development.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Spatially Managed Areas (MESMA) research is focused on development of a generic marine spatial planning framework to inform policy and practice in Europe and beyond. The plan is a pilot which sets the standard for all Scottish waters. MESMA Project deliverables and associated publications make an important contribution to the draft Marine Spatial Planning and Coastal Management Directive.
  • Our research through Supergen UKCMER has provided data for field developers, informing EIAs and the consenting process, as well as a range of monitoring and modelling studies being undertaken. It feeds directly into the noise modelling methodologies being developed for a wave device developer and collision monitoring methodologies adopted by a tidal turbine developer.

Key information

Orkney Campus