Wave and Tidal Conference Edinburgh • 25 & 26 February 2015 • 300 Delegates
Can you tell us more about the Wave and Tidal 2015 conference and exhibition?
GH: This was our 12th Wave and Tidal conference. When we held our first conference of this type back in 2003 it was a very small event, but it’s grown over the years to become the go-to event for the industry in the UK and Europe. It’s an opportunity to bring together developers, investors, insurers, academics and other interested parties to collaborate on products and look at the latest kit. A real strength of this event is the optimism that exists amongst the attendees, especially considering some of the challenges the industry can face.
What were the aims of the conference?
RN: The conference provides us with a great platform to engage with ministers, who are always looking for opportunities to talk directly to the industry and meet those working in it face-to-face. At our conference, we were honoured to welcome Fergus Ewing, MSP for Business, Energy and Tourism, who announced over £14m in funding for Wave Energy Scotland, the new Scottish wave energy technology development body. It also helps us show Government how important this industry is and how crucial a difference it could make in the future – wave and tidal has the potential to supply up to 20% of the UK’s electricity if we develop it fully.
How important is renewable energy for our future and how will this change our current energy consumption?
RN: It’s a huge transition; we’re moving away from fossil fuels to mainly renewable sources in the next few decades. At the moment we’re getting around 18% of our electricity from renewable sources in the UK, which is more than some people think. We’ve signed up to legally binding targets with the European Union to have 30% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. So within the next five years we are going to have to see an almost doubling in the amount of electricity we generate from renewables, which is why we are going to see more wave and tidal energy in particular in the years ahead.
What made the EICC stand out as the right venue to host your conference?
GH: The demand for the event has increased and we now need a prestigious venue, like the EICC. In the past feedback we’ve had from delegates has told us that splitting the exhibition and conference over a number of smaller rooms doesn’t work that well. The EICC has the flexibility to accommodate our needs perfectly and that’s been reflected in the feedback we’ve had from delegates.
Can you explain the importance of collaboration in your industry?
RN: It is essential for stakeholders – that means everyone with any interest in the sector - to be able to bring their ideas together and work in collaboration to help solve the industry’s challenges. As a result, we are putting a great deal of effort into collaborating more with other trade associations around the world, institutes and government bodies.
How did you find the facilities at the EICC?
GH: The EICC was the perfect fit for us in terms of size. It’s a challenge for our events programme team to find suitable venues because we require a large capacity for the audience for conference sessions and accompanying exhibition space. With this in mind, sometimes it’s difficult to create a flow that’s conducive to the event. The EICC gave us the opportunity to have our conference and exhibition co-located and our delegates really benefitted from that. It’s helped to create a community feel within the event. The staff were also outstanding and showed a really high level of engagement with our delegates.
Were there any issues that the EICC was able to help in resolving?
RN: Not issues as such, but what I would say is that nothing was too much trouble for them. Working in communications I had to get press releases out quickly to maximise our coverage. The EICC understood that when it comes to communications every second counts and I was promptly supplied with everything I needed (such as a computer and a printer) at very short notice, which was much appreciated.
Are you looking forward to the 2016 International Conference on Ocean Energy, which is also taking place at the EICC?
GH: Very much so. It is a three-day event, which attracts a truly global audience. The programme is put together by an international committee of industry experts and the idea behind it is to focus on learning and networking. Because a vast number of the attendees aren’t from the UK, they take advantage of Edinburgh’s fantastic position to explore Scotland and experience first-hand its contributions to the industry.
Would you recommend the EICC?
RN: Most definitely. We were very impressed with all aspects of the EICC and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.