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Marine renewables subsea suppliers learning by doing

Marine renewables subsea suppliers learning by doing
Learning by doing will be the key for subsea industry players wanting to get involved in the emerging wave and tidal energy industry, according to a leader in the industry.

Learning by doing will be the key for subsea industry players wanting to get involved in the emerging wave and tidal energy industry, according to a leader in the industry.

Centred around the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) – currently home to the largest cluster of marine energy devices in the world – wave and tidal power has been picking up momentum in the past 12 months.

However, while there are large multi-device arrays in the pipeline, including off the coast of Scotland, the industry is still mostly centred around single device testing.

Neil Kermmode, chief executive of EMEC, is still confident that a supply chain, including subsea, will be ready for when the industry gears up for commercial-scale deployment.

“I’m sure they (subsea firms) are a key part of making this all happen,” he said. “We have already seen Subsea 7, Technip, OIG and others come and do work successfully up here and I’m quite sure there is a lot more to come.

“There is a little bit of a tension at the moment around there not being the same money in renewables as there appears to be in oil and also safety issues in some respects are significantly different. We are not dealing with explosive materials and pollution risk.

“Therefore the equipment they may have may be over-specified for some of the things we need to do.”

In some cases it could also be under-specified too. He said three or four years ago no one had used a DP (dynamically-positioned) vessel at strong tidal sites.

However, “Subsea 7 was the first to try and was successful and it pushed the envelope,” he said.

While much existing work has been carried out with existing equipment, Kermode thinks there will be vessels and equipment developed specifically for the industry, as has happened in offshore wind.

“I can’t see the industry will put thousands of machines out without specialist vessels,” he said.

“We expect some types of specialist boats will be developed for wave and tidal. They will be developed by the people who see a way to do things cheaper, faster and safer.

“People have seen what is being done, have thought about it, gone away and I’m quite sure are labouring at ideas for the next time they come.

“It is learning by doing, underlining doing.”

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