ocean energy

United Kingdom

New marine energy park launched in Scotland

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters in the North of Scotland will today confirm their place on the global marine energy map with the launch of the area as a Marine Energy Park. Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker will welcome the launch of the marine park during a visit to Thurso in Caithness, where he is set to address key players from across the marine renewable energy industry.
New marine energy park launched in Scotland

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park will incorporate the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) which attracts developers from across the world and where testing of a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices is already under way.

 “It’s great to see Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters confirm their place on the marine power map with the launch of the second of the Coalition Government’s UK Marine Energy Parks,” comments Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker. “This area is already a vital part of the marine industry, thanks to its high tidal stream and wave resource. This stretch of water is also home to the European Marine Energy Centre, currently unrivalled anywhere else in the world. This park will help bring together local knowledge and expertise to spur on further development in this exciting industry.”

The purpose of the park is to heighten the international profile of the region and its reputation as a world leader in marine energy. The park will build on collaborative partnerships in the region between government on the main land and the Orkney Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise(HIE), plus a cluster of local expertise and renewable resource in the area, to help speed up progress of marine power development.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change estimates that energy from waves or tides has the potential to generate 27 GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from eight coal fired power stations. “Marine power is a growing green clean source of power which has the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn to the economy by 2050,” adds Barker. “The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power and we need to really capitalise on this to ensure energy from marine reaches its full potential in our future energy mix.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise chairman, Lorne Crerar, says that she is delighted that the region’s role in the development of the marine energy sector is being recognised nationally and internationally. “The designation as a marine energy park further promotes the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as a marine energy hub, and will accelerate investment and the industry’s ambition for commercialisation of the technologies being tested here.”

Meanwhile, Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Councillor, Steven Heddle, highlights that the launch of the Marine Energy Park “formalises the leading role that the waters around Orkney have already played in the development of marine energy”, with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney already established “as a world-leading facility in the testing and certification of marine energy devices”.

"The development of EMEC, supported by investment from the Orkney Islands Council, has led to the growth of a local supply chain and technical expertise geared towards marine renewables which is second to none,” says Heddle.

UK’s growing marine sector

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters is already a vital part of the UK’s growing marine sector and is home to some of the best wave and tidal resource in the country as well as home grown marine expertise.

This stretch of water is also the site of the world’s first commercial scale leasing round for marine energy. As announced by the Crown Estate (TCE) in 2010, there are 11 successful bidders for sites in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. Up to 1.6 GW (600 MW from wave and 1000MW from tidal stream) proposed by the developers involved in this leasing round, could, if developed to full capacity, meet the electricity needs of up to three quarters of a million homes.

Scrabster Harbour in Thurso is already expanding its facilities in light of the growing role of offshore energy in the area. Under its "three ports strategy", Orkney Islands Council is investing in new and upgraded pier and quayside facilities at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness - providing support facilities at key strategic locations for the marine energy industry.

Responding to the announcement that Pentland Firth is set to be named as the UK's second marine energy park, Dr Sam Gardner, senior climate policy officer at WWF Scotland said: "Selecting the Pentland Firth as the site of UK's second marine energy park would be an exciting development and a further opportunity for Scotland's marine renewable sector to develop wave and tidal devices. Alongside energy saving measures, marine renewables will have a critical role to play in helping Scotland reduce climate emissions as we phase out polluting fossil fuels and nuclear power. With careful planning we can harness Scotland's wave and tidal energy to help cut our climate emissions, while safeguarding the nation's tremendous marine environment."

Aquamarine Power is one ocean energy company that looks set to benefit from the new announcement. Its Chief Executive Officer, Martin McAdam, said in a blog post today that the new Marine Energy Park status “will further strengthen the region's reputation and will, we anticipate, help accelerate the industry's ambitions for commercialisation of the technologies as well as investment in the sector”.

Already more than 25 marine energy leases have been awarded in Scotland and the coming years will see leading companies developing the first small wave farms as the industry moves towards commercialisation.

McAdam stresses that collaboration with the sister Marine Energy Park in the South West of England will also be key. “We need to capitalise on the new marine energy park designation to ensure that new investors are brought on board to develop commercial products and put project equity into the first small wave farms,” he says, adding that new ways are needed to encourage investment within the park, such as tax incentives and accelerated capital allowances. “There should also be a focus on securing regional, national and European funding to speed up technology development and support early stage projects.  This funding could include European regional support and early access to the Green Investment Bank.”

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