Wednesday, March 31, 2010

British Government Increases Commitment to Marine Energy Sources

The British Government on March 31st announced a grant of up to $7.6 million (£5m) to support the continued development of marine energy in the UK. The grant will support the development of a Marine Renewables Business Park at Hayle, in the South West.

It is envisaged that the Business Park will act as a focus for the future development of a cluster of businesses based around marine energy. Hayle is close to the pioneering Wave Hub project which, with $14.4 million (£9.5) million of support from Government, will create the UK’s first offshore facility to demonstrate the operation of arrays of wave energy generation devices.

Government also this month announced £4m of funding for a Marine Building at the University of Plymouth which will house new wave tank facilities and provide a flagship location where researchers and enterprises can interact and collaborate.
Business Minister Ian Lucas said:

“The UK has huge potential to lead in marine energy – not just the natural resources but the industrial and technology base and the R&D and skilled workforce. The grant we’re announcing today is part of the Government’s investment in the South West as a leading area for marine renewable energy.”

Claire Gibson, director of sustainable resources at the South West RDA, said, "This is another important step in securing the South West as the leader in marine renewables. With Wave Hub now under construction, the business park will be a significant facility that will nourish the nascent marine renewables industry."

In the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy in July 2009, the South West was designated the first Low Carbon Economic area because of its existing strength and the future potential in marine energy. The investments from Government support a $151.8 million (£100 million) program of work on marine  renewables that will be harnessed by the LCEA.

There is significant UK potential in marine energy in the next decades with an estimated potential of up to 16,000 UK wave jobs by 2040. The Government is actively supporting the UK’s wave and tidal energy industry and has put in place the world’s most comprehensive suite
of support instruments.

This investment follows the launch of the UK Marine Industries Strategic Framework earlier this month. The framework sets out a vision for the UK marine industry in 2020, with the sector:
•           exploiting its opportunities for growth
•           strengthening its international reputation
•           and maintaining its competitive position globally

Construction on WaveHub began in late 2009 and is due for completion by autumn 2010 with the first wave energy devices expected to be deployed in 2011.

In addition to the projects outlined above Government is investing: $15.18 million (£10m) at the New and Renewable Energy Centre in the North East for early stage onshore testing;
- $12.1 million (£8m) at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney to expand later stage testing facilities Access to these facilities will significantly reduce the costs to developers of testing their prototypes and arrays in real sea conditions.

The Carbon Trust recently announced the award of the $33.4 million  (£22m) Marine Renewables Proving fund – aimed at helping marine energy firms to prepare their wave and tidal energy systems for the water. Atlantis Resources, Aquamarine Power, Hammerfest Strom UK, Marine Current Turbines, Pelamis Wave Power and Voith Hydro were selected to receive grants under the scheme.

Government recently published the Marine Energy Action Plan (15 March 2010) which set out the vision for what marine energy can do for the UK, and the actions needed to make this happen.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

Sources and contacts
British Innovations and Skills Office

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