Scotland’s first designated area for the development of marine energy (including tidal and wave) was launched earlier this week by Department of Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park (MEP) is intended to drive investment in these fledging forms of renewable energy with the eventual aim of achieving commercialisation of marine renewable energy.
Marine Energy is hoped to play a major role in Scottish electricity generation in the future as Scotland has the biggest marine energy potential in Europe.
The Crown Estate has granted licenses to several developers to construct up to 1.6GW worth of marine energy technology in the Pentland Firth and the waters around Orkney and what is now the world’s biggest marine energy development centre.
There are currently around 50 different marine energy devices in development across the UK, the most of any country in the world. The USA which is currently developing 17 devices falls in to a distant second place.
The launch of the Marine Energy Park comes shortly after the UK Government announced the new ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificate) subsidy levels for wave and tidal technologies; which have more than doubled. This indicates the importance which is being placed upon the future role of marine energy technologies.
The establishment of the Marine Energy Park has been met with a large amount of enthusiasm from both industry and political figures. At its opening , Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker stated:
“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.
“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.
“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 £15 billion to the economy by 2050.
“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.”
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing was similarly enthusiastic:
“The Marine Energy Park designation of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region will further enhance Scotland’s leading position in marine renewables. This award recognises the work that has been done in leading the development of wave and tidal energy in Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region for many years, and proves that Scotland continues to be the jewel in the crown of all wave and tidal activity.
“Progress in Scottish wave and tidal renewables has been staggering, but the Scottish Government recognises that more financial support is needed to help the sector achieve its fullest potential. That is why we have committed over £30 million through WAVES and WATERS schemes and investment at EMEC, and why we are still continuing to invest in the sector with the £18 million Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund created to accelerate the development and deployment of commercial arrays.”
Industry figures were equally enthused, Lindsay Roberts Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables stated:
“The designation of Scotland’s first Marine Energy Park is further, well deserved recognition of the world leading innovation taking place in Scotland, the home of marine energy.
“With 1.6GW of potential capacity already being leased within these waters, the park is at the forefront of the world’s marine energy development.
“The Marine Energy Park designation builds on the success of existing centres of excellence such as EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre) in Orkney, which helps deliver fantastic education and employment opportunities for the local communities. We also hope this new designation will both support existing companies working in the marine energy sector and encourage new entrants who will help strengthen the supply chain; bringing much needed jobs and investment.
“This industry has huge potential to create as many as 10,000 jobs and attract billions of pounds worth of investment which will boost our economic growth, reduce carbon emissions and secure our energy supplies for many years to come.”
Finally the Convenor of Orkney Island’s Council Steven Heddle emphasised the boost the Park will bring to the local area:
“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.
“The test sites of European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney have established it as a world-leading facility in the testing and certification of marine energy devices allowing a competitive advantage for a new UK industry.
“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.
“Further investment by the Council in piers and onshore facilities with huge growth potential at Lyness, Hatston and Stormness – already rewarded by significant activity and employment – shows our confidence in the successful commercialisation of marine renewables and offshore wind, and in our ability to service these activities.
“We welcome the launch of the Marine Energy Park, and look forward to working with our partners to drive development and economic prosperity for our communities.”
The launch of the Marine Energy Park serves to re-emphasise the world leading potential Scotland has not just in marine energy but renewable energy as a whole.