Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) invested £2.95m, including £1.18m from the European Regional Development Fund, to create the units on vacant industrial site next to Hatston Pier, Kirkwall.

Each unit provides workshop, storage and office accommodation to meet the needs of tidal and energy developers using the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) test site at Eday.

Established with HIE’s backing in 2003, EMEC is helping establish Orkney as a centre for marine energy research and development. It is the only accredited wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy worldwide.

The Hatston project aims to fill a present gap in the provision of suitable premises for EMEC based renewable energy developers in the Kirkwall area. Hatston Pier functions as a natural base for servicing marine energy activity at EMEC.

The site is owned by Orkney Islands Council and HIE is taking out a 99 year lease on the 2.5 acre site. EMEC itself will move into one of the units next month and interest is already being attracted from other developers.

When fully occupied, the six units are expected to support up to 35 jobs. Each unit has been designed flexibly so it can be adapted to the needs of individual occupants.

The development of the units was a result of consultation with Stromness-based EMEC, which had identified a clear need for new facilities to service the needs of its developers. Hatston presents an ideal location for those testing at EMEC’s Fall of Warness sites off the south end of Eday.

Ken Grant, HIE’s Area Manager for Orkney, said: “It is already well known that Orkney is a world class location for cutting-edge wave and tidal energy technology research and development.

“To reap the benefits for our economy, we must ensure the infrastructure is in place, and up till now there has been a gap in the provision of suitable premises for tidal energy developers in the Kirkwall area.

“Now that the facilities have been completed, we can ensure that the area meets the needs of this emerging sector, and EMEC is able to develop as an organisation and respond to new opportunities and maintain Scotland’s position at the forefront of this emerging industry.

Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC, added, “These units form an integral part of EMEC and Orkney’s support for international developers, upon which the future potential of wave and tidal energy production is dependant. We are extremely grateful to HIE for taking the lead in providing these much needed facilities at a time when there has been an obvious lack of suitable premises.”

The design and construction project was carried out by the Elgin office of Mansell Construction Services Ltd.

Iain Lumsden, Regional Director for Mansell, said: “We are delighted to have been able to play a part in this prestigious project and in the continued development of the world class marine renewable energy industry in Orkney.”