Photo: Colin Keldie, courtesy of EMEC
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has been designated with Renewable Energy Testing Laboratory (RETL) status, the highest international designation for marine energy test laboratories — making it the first RETL for ocean energy in the world.
RETL designation is awarded by the International Electrotechnical Commission – Renewable Energy System (IECRE) which operates a global certification system addressing three renewable energy sectors: solar photovoltaic (PV), wind energy and marine energy.
Currently, a prerequisite to being recognised as an RETL in the marine energy sector is to be accredited as a test laboratory; EMEC has been accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ISO/IEC 17025 as a test laboratory since 2005 and ISO/IEC 17020 as an inspection body since 2014.
Up until now, EMEC could perform accredited performance assessments within the UK; RETL designation enables EMEC to perform tests to assess the power performance of tidal energy converters anywhere in the world in compliance with IEC TC 114 Technical Specifications (precursors to international standards).
For now, the RETL designation only covers the power performance assessment of tidal energy converters (IEC/TS 62600-200), however, the IECRE System is in the process of expanding such a designation to cover wave energy converters and additional competence areas as well.
Elaine Buck, EMEC’s technical manager, explains why attaining RETL designation is a vital milestone for the ocean energy sector: “Given the complexity and size of the challenges in developing ocean energy technologies – consenting, commissioning, installation, operations, maintenance – it is extremely difficult for investors, funders and insurers to adequately conduct comprehensive technical due diligence.
The IECRE offers a comprehensive and transparent third-party renewable energy conformity assessment system that ensures that project installations adhere to accepted international standards.
“For EMEC, gaining RETL designation is a major achievement, providing independent assurance that ISO/IEC 17025 and IECRE criteria have been met for integrity, technical competence and quality, and that the methods we use are standardised and transparent.
“RETL status opens up international markets to EMEC for testing ocean energy devices, subsystems and components on a worldwide basis. While there are 29 RETLs for wind energy globally, EMEC is the first RETL for ocean energy technologies in the world.”
The first technology to be assessed by EMEC as a RETL will be Verdant Power who are working to receive the first internationally recognised Renewable Energy Test Report (RETR) through the IECRE system.
Verdant are gearing up to deploy three Gen5 turbines in New York City’s East River later in 2020. EMEC has been supporting it in preparing for the power performance assessment.
Jonathan Colby, ME-SWG Convenor and IEC TC 114 Chair said: “EMEC has been instrumental in the development of Technical Specifications on IEC TC 114 and, as a founding member of the IECRE, participating across the IEC standards and conformity assessment activities.
“The IECRE aims to facilitate international trade in marine, solar PV and wind energy by verifying the safety, performance and reliability of equipment and services.
“The processes are created by the sector, for the sector, with EMEC contributing to various technical working groups focused on wave and tidal power performance, technology qualification, electrical power quality, certification scheme rules and finances, among others, as well as chairing PEL/114 coordinating UK input into the IEC Technical Committee 114 (Marine Energy).
“Gaining this RETL designation demonstrates EMEC’s technical competence, ensuring that procedures, data analyses and reporting are aligned to international best practice, processes are in place ensure impartiality and test reports that will be globally accepted, enhancing access to markets and financing for tidal energy developers.”
Wolfram Zeitz, IECRE Executive Secretary said: “For the IECRE the approval of the first marine energy RETL marks a major milestone. As a Conformity Assessment System we can be operational only if we do have approved and registered Conformity Assessment Bodies, such as RE-Testing Laboratories and RE Certification Bodies operating in the system.
“While the IECRE marine sector has worked tirelessly to set up the system and define the detailed rules and processes for several years, only after this milestone are we ready to be operational.
“With the approval of EMEC as our first marine energy RETL, we are confident we will soon see conformity assessment being conducted under the umbrella of the IECRE marine sector. With EMEC we found a strong partner to continue this development.”