MERIKA FP7 Project

MERIKA (Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelerator) is an ambitious initiative by UHI (University of the Highlands and the Islands), located in Scotland and the UK’s outermost region. The project revolves around the concept of turning the UHI Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering into a reference research and innovation hub for all of Europe on the theme of marine energy. Funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme, the MERIKA Project runs from 2014-2017.

Supertides in Scotland

University of the Highlands and Islands Blog

By Dr Jason McIlvenny and Dr Philip Gillibrand, Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College UHI


The tides around the coast of the United Kingdom fluctuate between “spring” tides and “neap” tides according to the moon’s phase, full moons and new moons giving rise to the largest range tides, known as “spring” tides. That means that both the highest high tides and the lowest low tides (i.e. the largest range) occur at “springs”, while at neap tides the tidal range is smallest. The word “neap” is thought to have originated from the Middle English word ‘neep’ meaning small.  The word spring refers to the tide springing up and not the season of spring.

In simple terms, spring tides occur when the gravitational effects of the moon and the sun are aligned, giving the greatest net effect. At neap tides, the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon act in…

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What future for the energy-rich Scottish North? Changes in the economic landscape of the Highlands and Isles, and the rest of Scotland

Marcello Graziano, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK1
Lucy Greenhill, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK
Suzi Billing, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK

In recent years, the Scottish Government has promoted marine renewable energy technologies (MREs) as a way to achieve energy security, economic development and environmental sustainability (The Scottish Government, 2010; 2011).2 MREs play a pivotal role in the ambitious plan of the Scottish government to supply 100% of electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020 (FREDS, 2004; IPA, 2010; Allan et al., 2014, Scottish Government, 2011). The vast majority of suitable resources for wave and tidal technologies are located off the shores of the Highland and Isles region (HIR), reflected in the substantial plans for project development in these areas (Figure 1). Capturing sub-regional benefits, in addition to national economic contribution, is of major significance for policymakers and developers alike, because of the socioeconomic fragility of the HIR region (HIE, 2011; EPIC, 2012).

Despite recent efforts to establish best practices for community engagement, the Scottish and the UK governments currently implement a market-driven, top-down approach to planning the MRE sector (Johnson et al., 2012; The Scottish Government, 2014; Chronopoulos et al., 2014). Two jurisdictions, Shetland and Orkney (S&O), have attracted several investors using the energy produced to enhance their local economies. Deploying MREs across the HIR is dependent on large-scale transmission upgrades for reaching the final demand, which is mostly located in the south of Scotland (The Scottish Government, 2013). The current approach of the Scottish Government to MREs replicates the paradigm that has characterized the relationship between the HIR and the rest of Scotland for the past 250 years (Richards, 1982). We name this paradigm, ‘Megalopolis’ after the work of von Glasow et al. (2013). We identify Megalopolis as the area stretching between Glasgow and Edinburgh, known as the ‘Central Belt’. (The Scottish Government, 2004; SNS, 2014).
In the present work, we argue that the Megalopolis paradigm has generated a conundrum for the development of MREs in Scotland, and one that cannot be solved solely through the devolutionary approaches of the 1970s. To solve the conundrum, we introduce the Diffused Inclusive Community Entrepreneurship Paradigm (DICEP). Finally, we identify examples of policies and societal responses which could be institutionalized and replicated through DICEP.

Click here to read this extended abstract in full (PDF).

ICOE 2014 | MERIKA staff make connections in Halifax, Nova Scotia


Dr Marie-Lise Schläppy

The ocean energy community gathered this month in Halifax, Canada for the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) Several representatives of the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) were representing their respective institution, amongst others Dr Marie-Lise Schläppy, research fellow at the Environmental Research Institute which is part of the North Highland College in Thurso. The aim of the conference was to inform the marine renewable energy community about the newest developments in wave and tide resource assessment, innovation in new technology designs, and policies towards this type of renewable energy, at the European and United Kingdom level. Representatives of commercial ventures were there, along with scientists and representatives from the Carbon Trust (UK), Innovate UK, International Scotland, Highland and Islands Enterprise and the European Union.

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UHI Marine Energy Breakfast Showcase – 24th September 2014

Breakfast Showcase for Marine Energy at UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands)

Professor Ian Bryden, Vice-Principal (Research), UHI

Professor Stuart Gibb, Director Environmental Research Institute, UHI
Dr Ben Wilson, Chair of Energy, UHI
Dr Arne Vögler, Senior Research Engineer, UHI
Damian Collins, MERIKA Project Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Manager, UHI
Dr Raeanne Miller, Knowledge Exchange Fellow for Marine Renewable Energy, SAMS

The Marine Energy breakfast event showcased UHI’s marine energy expertise and research themes, and introduce UHI’s newest EU-funded marine energy project, MERIKA.



MERIKA Project Kick-off Event, 22nd September 2014



MERIKA Project Office, EO, UHI

Damian Collins, Project Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Manager

Nicholas Oakley, Project Administration Officer

Lews Castle College, UHI


Arne Vögler, Marine Energy Engineer

Donald Armstrong, Research Associate

David Christie, Research Fellow

James Morrison, Research Associate

Environmental Research Institute, UHI


Philip Gillibrand, Senior Research Fellow

Jennifer Loxton, Research Associate

Marie-Lise Schläppy, Research Fellow

 Scottish Association for Marine Science, UHI


Marcello Graziano, Research Associate

Lucy Greenhill

Jasper Kenter, Senior Research Fellow

Denise Risch, Research Associate

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MERIKA Scientists at MASTS ASM, 3-5 September

IMG_20140903_163211 IMG_20140903_175125 IMG_20140903_092909IMG_20140904_162216

Dr Jennifer Loxton of ERI attended the annual science meeting of MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) conference in Edinburgh, 3-5 September 2014.

Also in attendance from the MERIKA Project were Dr Marie-Lise Schläppy and Dr Philip Gillibrand, both of ERI, as well as Dr Donald Armstrong from LCC, Dr Jasper Kenter and Lucy Greenhill from SAMS.


From L-R, Gillibrand, Greenhill, Schläppy, Kenter

Fracking and MREs

The recent decision to boost shale gas exploration and extraction in the UK has met resistance within the Scottish government, writes Dr Marcello Graziano.

Scottish residents should worry less than those in England, as the country does not host as many reserves as previously thought. Nevertheless, the development of fracking poses a new sense of urgency to develop Scotland’s real richness: marine renewables. With a neighbouring market investing in a competing (at least apparently) source like shale fossils, Scotland could see a decreased interest in marine renewables.

Interestingly, one thing shale fossils and marine renewables have in common is the opposition encountered in many communities. Education, information and the prospect of sustainable development could shift support towards marine renewables, although these technologies require policymakers, stakeholders and developers to start delivering, and soon.

Otherwise, for how environmentally expensive they can be, shale a oil and gas will always be seen as necessary, with no real alternative for the future. And we know this is not true.


More about the new rules:

More about Scottish Shale Gas:

More about Scottish reactions to new rules:

Dr Marcello Graziano is a MERIKA Research Associate at SAMS, UHI