Wednesday, June 29, 2011

£20m promised for marine energy

The Government has promised up to £20 million later in the year to develop a pre-commercial demonstration of wave and tidal energy devices.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker made the announcement yesterday while visiting marine power developer Pelamis Wave Power at Leith Docks in Edinburgh.

Pelamis is planning a wave farm project off Shetland using its snakelike 'P2' device, which will follow successful trials by E.ON at the European Marine Energy Centre off the west coast of the Orkney mainland. These have shown a very good conversion efficiency of around 70% in small seas.

Subject to state aid approval, the cash will come from DECC’s budget of over £200 million that is set aside to fund low carbon technologies and was announced in the Spending Review.

It will complement several other sources of support which together will help to progress the development of marine devices from the current large scale prototypes to larger arrays in the ocean.

Greg Barker spoke of the ability of Britain to be a world leader in marine power and support "thousands of jobs in a sector worth a potential £15 billion to the economy to 2050."

Barker is also in Scotland to chair the second meeting of the UK Marine Energy Programme Board at Edinburgh University. The meeting will discuss the setting up of Marine Energy Parks.

Scotland and the South West host the hubs where the main innovative development work in these technologies is already being carried out.

The funding will be in addition to money which the UK hopes to secure from the EU New Entrant’s Reserve 300 (NER300) fund. Of the five UK renewables energy projects submitted to the NER300, three were for tidal stream arrays and one was for wave energy arrays.

Hartlepool lobbies for offshore renewables

Barker's colleague at DECC, Charles Hendry, was yesterday at the Port of Hartlepool visiting other energy industries associated with offshore work: a leading cable manufacturer for renewable energy projects, JDR Cable Systems, and Heerema Fabrication Group, which specialises in the engineering and fabrication of large and complex structures, mainly for the offshore oil & gas and energy industry.

The local MP, Iain Wright, is working hard to attract companies in the renewable energy sector to the area via an initiative called Chain Reaction.

This group represents a cluster of companies including NOF Energy, EIC, JDR Cables, Narec, CTC Marine, TATA, The Crown Estate and the Port Authority, PD Ports Group, who all support Teesside’s ambition to become a centre of excellence for the UK wind energy market.

Both Wright and PD Ports told Hendry that it is imperative that the Government has a direct, clear and positive view of the renewables sector, including Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), funding and planning.

“There is a major reluctance to invest in this sector until the Government sets the level for ROCs which will determine what proportion of their power that UK electricity suppliers must generate from renewable sources,” said David Robinson, CEO, PD Ports Group.

A banding review is underway for ROC levels in the UK, and the result is expected later this year. Currently, for example, under the banded Renewables Obligation, wave and tidal technologies receive an enhanced level of ROCs for each MWh of eligible generation produced.

“As long as the Government delays specifying the ROC level, it causes great uncertainly in the market and gives international companies no clear incentive to invest in UK facilities,” Robinson told Hendry.

A review by ARUP conducted for the review published earlier this month made some ambitious projections for marine power:
  • For wave power, there could be between 186MW and 279MW installed capacity by 2020 and 500MW and 2,520MW by 2030.
  • For tidal stream (marine current turbines) there could be 241MW - 406MW worth of installations by 2020 and 500MW - 2,160MW by 2030.
  • Tidal range deployment (barrages and lagoons) would only begin in 2021 and could entail 250MW - 1,000MW of power by 2030.

For comparison, offshore wind is expected to provide about eight times as much energy by 2030.

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