Council to cover extra cost of decommissioning Pelamis

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A Pelamis device, which was once a common sight during testing west of Orkney.

Extra cash will probably need to be found in order to decommission the Pelamis wave device, Orkney Islands Council has confirmed.

This would come in addition to a “dowry” payment of £45,000 provided by previous owners European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) for such a purpose.

In 2017, the council took Pelamis off EMEC’s ​​hands for the nominal fee of £1, but in November 2019 it was agreed that the device should be disposed of or sold as scrap.

Now, it is anticipated that — due to market changes — the costs will be more than originally expected and it is unlikely to be covered by the dowry alone.

According to the council, who discussed the matter in private during a meeting of its policy and resources committee on Tuesday, multiple options have been explored to keep the costs down. However, with a number of challenges — including the lack of suitable decommissioning facilities in Orkney, increased fuel costs, the requirement for bodies such as the MCA and SEPA to approve plans, and the lack of steel in the device relative to the work required to decommission — the anticipated costs have increased.

The funding for the additional cost will be identified at the end of the financial year and met from within council funds.

In a statement released this Thursday afternoon, Gareth Waterson OIC’s corporate director for enterprise and sustainable regeneration, said: “The Pelamis device was bought in 2017, following a request from EMEC.

“Risks and benefits were duly weighed up and it was felt that, at that point in time, there were potential opportunities for the device. With Orkney being at the forefront of ocean energy R&D we were particularly keen to build on its heritage value, saving it as a piece of Orkney’s history, however other options were also considered including its scrap value or breakwater potential.

“Following further work, it was agreed in 2019 to dispose of the device. There’s been tremendous change in the world since then that has seen increased costs for decommissioning work — whether that be due to the ripple effect of COVID or the economic crisis. Consequently, several market changes have taken place in the intervening period and we’re now in the unfortunate — but unavoidable — situation of the decommissioning costs being expected to go beyond the £45,000 ‘dowry payment’ from EMEC.”

OIC will now go out to tender for decommissioning of the system.

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