Marine energy park status to speed up development

14th September 2012 from Energy North

Development chiefs are confident that investment in wave and tidal energy projects off the north coast of Caithness will be speeded up now that the area has been officially designated as a marine energy park.

Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker announced during the summer that the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters had become the second part of the UK to gain marine energy park status, saying it would bring together local expertise to help maximise the potential of the industry.

The aim is to heighten the international profile of the area and its reputation as being at the forefront of marine energy. The park includes the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, which attracts developers from across the world and where testing of a range of wave and tidal energy devices is already well under way.

It is anticipated that the pace of marine power development will pick up as a result of the area’s new status.

Lorne Crerar, chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We are 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.”

Mr Barker made the announcement at the end of July during a visit to Scrabster.

“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,” he said.

“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 EMEC, 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 clean, green source of power which has the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn 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.”

Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “The marine energy park designation will further enhance Scotland’s leading position in marine renewables. This recognises the work that has been done in leading the development of wave and tidal energy in Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters for many years, and proves that Scotland continues to be the jewel in the crown of all wave and tidal activity.”

The leader of the Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry, said:” The Highland Council has been a key partner in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters wave and tidal programme since its earliest days, so we welcome this further recognition of the international significance of the marine resources in the north.”

Councillor Hendry pointed out that the state-of-the-art Engineering, Technology and Energy Centre (ETEC) in Thurso was already training the next generation of marine engineers and technicians.

“Together with our partners we continue to support the growth potential of marine energy for the economy of our area,” he added.

The convener of Orkney Islands Council, Councillor Steven Heddle, said: “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.”

After south-west England was declared the first marine energy park in the UK in January, the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP John Thurso led discussions with Government ministers about creating the same designation in the north of Scotland.

“When I heard Mr Barker speak about the prospect of creating these parks across the UK coastline, I immediately saw what it could mean for us in terms of branding and bringing people together,” John Thurso said. “This is one of the most important places for marine energy in the world and this is evident by the work that has gone into creating extra work space at Scrabster harbour.”

The announcement was also welcomed by Martin McAdam, CEO of Aquamarine Power.

“This confirms the region’s status as a world leader in wave and tidal technology and will - we anticipate - accelerate the region’s ambitions for commercial success, new jobs and economic growth,” he said.

“We believe it will be a positive force which will drive progress through encouraging additional private investment, unlocking European support and enabling early access to the Green Investment Bank.”

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