The Scottish Government yesterday announced more than £4 million for new wave and tidal power research capacity, securing Scotland’s world-leading position in marine energy.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told industry delegates at the RenewableUK Wave and Tidal Conference in London that the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney would get £3 million for a new grid-connected testing berth. EMEC will also lead a £1.1 million project to develop the potential of support vessels used in the marine industry around Orkney and the Pentland Firth.
The latest Scottish Government funding for EMEC was confirmed ahead of talks between First Minister Alex Salmond and the European Union’s Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger.
The First Minister said: “I am delighted that the Commissioner Oettinger accepted the invitation to come to Scotland and is taking time to meet with government and key industry figures across our various energy sectors. As home to a global centre for oil & gas, around a quarter of the EU’s wind and tidal resource, world-leading renewables technologies and about half of Europe’s offshore carbon storage (CCS) capacity, Scotland is a key hub for Europe’s energy industry.
“The Scottish Government has shown how firm political commitment to increased renewable energy can drive investment and ensure clean technologies play an major part in the energy system. As the Commission prepares to lead a debate on energy and climate targets for 2030, renewables must feature strong in what emerges.
“Working with the EU and our other partners in Europe, the Scottish Government will continue to support the research and development of key energy technologies, creating jobs and investment in Scottish communities, while playing a full part in the development of a secure and increasingly decarbonised European electricity industry. Our support for leading centres such as EMEC and the Scottish European Green Energy Centre in Aberdeen – who the Commissioner is meeting tomorrow – underlines that commitment.”
Announcing the EMEC investment to delegates in London, Mr Ewing added: “Orkney is recognised internationally as the home of marine energy expertise. The European Marine Energy Centre is the number one centre in the world for testing marine devices and it is vital that we maintain that lead and continue to reap the economic benefits. Since EMEC was established in 2003, the marine industry has created around 250 jobs on Orkney.
“Today I am announcing that EMEC will lead a £1.1 million R&D project to assess the capability of the support vessels involved in Scotland’s growing marine industry around Orkney and the Pentland Firth. A full programme of monitored sea trials over the next few months will demonstrate what the vessel capabilities are and, just as importantly, how this work can be carried out safely and cost effectively’
“On top of this, I am delighted to announce that the Scottish Government and Highlands and Island Enterprise have provided £3 million pounds to enable EMEC to expand its testing facilities. The funds will be used to create an additional grid connected wave berth and will allow EMEC to meet the increased market demand for its services.”
The Minister also welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the South West of England energy park and the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park, promoting collaboration between the two centres.
Mr Ewing added: “The offshore renewable industry is at a crossroads, and the success of this industry will only be achieved if we attract investors, and that investment will only continue to come if there is market confidence. We all know that lack of detail on the Electricity Market Reform progress is causing considerable uncertainty for developers and the investment market. We cannot afford any investment hiatus created by market uncertainty, and I call on the UK Government to follow Scotland’s lead and give industry the certainty it needs.
“We will continue to find ways to help Scotland’s developing wave and tidal industry tap into this much needed investment. Our £103 million pound Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), our £18 million pound Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and our £10 million pound Saltire Prize are just three examples of how we are incentivising investment. I look forward to announcing the results of our Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund in the coming weeks.”
Press release, March 1, 2013; Image: Mike Roper, courtesy of EMEC