Two new papers on renewable energy in the Orkneys

Marine Renewables and Coastal Communities - experiences from the offshore oil industry in the 1970s and their relevance to marine renewables in the 2010s


Ambition to create jobs and economic growth from the vast open spaces of the oceans and seas is made real by new and developing technologies. In the 2010s, renewable energy generated from wind, wave and tide is laying claim to large areas of marine space and driving the search to find new ways to manage ocean and coastal development. Many more activities are expected and precedents are currently being set for the future of marine governance. Several observers have drawn parallels with the development of offshore oil and gas in the 1970s which also represented a step change in use of the seas and coasts. The change was particularly felt in the Orkney and Shetland archipelagos, at the centre of the North Sea oilfields. Special powers were granted to these county councils to control development and share in its benefits. This paper compares the oil and renewables industries, separated in time by nearly 40 years, and their influence on adjacent communities. The similarities and differences are identified to test the hypothesis that the 1970s oil model of local participation could be repeated for the development of marine renewables in the 2010s. The conclusion is that the model could well be applied but that the political and policy drivers of today make it unlikely, at least for the time being. Most notably the change in the role of the public and private sectors and the use of market instruments to achieve national objectives tend to favour a climate of central control.

Accommodating wave and tidal energy - control and decision in Scotland


Harvesting the energy of waves and tides is still the subject of research and development as an increasing number of devices are invented and subjected to test. It is unclear which, if any, of these will ultimately be chosen for commercial deployment. The capacity for research and testing has expanded rapidly into an active industrial sector worth several hundreds of millions of Euros. Preparations for a commercial phase are underway in Scotland with the allocation of seabed leases to developers in the seas around Orkney; just in advance of Scotlandís first detailed marine spatial plan which is under preparation in the area. Anxiety to build confidence in a new and nationally important industrial sector conflicts with a plethora of uncertainties about technology and impacts on the natural environment and existing uses. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) will help to build a new governance structure for marine space but in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters (PFOW) area it is struggling to catch up with the pace of events. This paper identifies the political objectives driving development and the impact on decision making in areas under clear and present pressure from new activities. It argues that the PFOW area is of special interest highlighting issues which will be of widespread and generic influence in the future. A governance structure based on central authority in decision making is emerging. Conclusions are drawn about the need for more research into the delegation of marine stewardship powers to local communities.