The profile of Wales as a potential location for marine energy projects has increased dramatically over the past 12 months, demonstrated clearly by the growing number of developers from across the globe who are showing an active interest in developing projects in Welsh waters.
Attracted initially by Wales’ excellent wave and tidal stream resource, the announcement of two marine energy Demonstration Zones and the allocation of €100.4 million of EU Structural Funds prioritised by the Welsh Government for marine energy have served to cement Wales in the minds of developers as one of the preferred locations for marine energy development on a worldwide scale.
In recent months, Marine Energy Pembrokeshire, a key organisation supporting the development of the wave and tidal industry working across Wales has welcomed world leading developers from Singapore, Australia, Canada, America, Ireland, and Sweden to its meetings held quarterly in Cardiff, bringing the total number of companies interested in Welsh waters to 22. These meetings act as a forum for bringing industry and supply chain companies together with government and academia to share best practice and to collaborate on operational solutions.
The marine energy sector represents a once in a generation opportunity to secure a new, predictable low carbon economy that will help deliver economic growth, energy security and diversity and assist in meeting important climate change targets. With €100.4 million of EU Structural Funds prioritised by the Welsh Government for marine energy in Wales, two Demonstration Zones, seabed agreements in place for 4 separate wave and tidal projects and a number of proposals for tidal range projects, Wales has the potential to be a world-leader in the marine energy market – as a significant generator and, just as importantly, as an exporter of marine energy knowledge, technologies and services. We have really noticed an increase from international technology developers in Wales over the last 12 months and with current projects in the pipeline, the next few years will be key in terms of delivery.
David Jones, Project Director of Marine Energy Pembrokeshire
Swansea based Marine Power Systems (MPS) has developed the WaveSub technology. The 1:4 scale device is on track to be constructed and commissioned in Milford Haven in 2016, with results informing the full-scale version that will be developed and tested in the South Pembrokeshire Wave Demonstration Zone. Marine Power Systems will then deploy its first 30MW farm. The company is committed to a 50% Welsh supply chain content and is looking forward to presenting its pathway to commercialisation at this year’s Ocean Energy Europe Conference. Dr Gareth Stockman, Managing Director of MPS said,“WaveSub represents a step-change for the WEC market; it has been designed specifically to address the key challenges faced when capturing wave energy”.
A number of international wave developers visiting Pembrokeshire with a keen interest in developing projects in the South Pembrokeshire Wave Demonstration Zone ( being developed by Wave Hub) have also been impressed with the facilities on offer at Pembroke Port along with the presence of supply chain companies such as Mainstay Marine Solutions (formerly Mustang Marine), Ledwoods and Williams Shipping, all with expertise in the marine and energy industries.
Cardiff-based tidal stream technology company, Tidal Energy Limited (TEL), has announced revised plans for the deployment of its full-scale tidal energy generator in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire. The demonstration device was ready to be installed last November but its deployment was initially delayed by poor weather conditions. Martin Murphy, Managing Director of TEL said, “We fully intend to install our patented DeltaStream device before the autumn of this year”.
In North Wales, Swedish marine energy company Minesto has secured €13m of EU funds through the Welsh Government to support roll out of its tidal kite technology. The investment will help to establish a Minesto UK headquarters in North Wales and support commissioning of “the first commercial Deep Green project”.
Menter Môn, third party manager of the West Anglesey Demonstration Zone has also been very active and submitted their scoping report for the project in May. Menter Môn has also entered into an agreement with SP Energy Networks to provide 13.5MW of grid capacity in support of the development of the marine energy sector on Anglesey. With the consenting process and grid connection now under way, they are aiming for the first installations in 2017/18.
Our primary role is to make the demonstration zone attractive for developers through achieving broad consent and grid connection. We are also working closely with funders including Welsh Government to support these developments. We are confident through dialogue with stakeholders, developers and Welsh Government that the Morlais project is gaining momentum and will be a leading tidal energy location in the next 5 years.
Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, Managing Director of Menter Môn
Earlier this summer in June, the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) approved the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay project. Scheduled to be fully operational in 2019, the tidal lagoon will have an installed capacity of 320MW – enough to generate renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes, which represents more than 90% of homes in the Swansea Bay area. The project provides a scalable blueprint for a national fleet of larger projects, with early-stage sites being developed at Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay.
All of this planned activity and present work is having a positive impact upon the economy in Wales. A study carried out by MEP in 2015 indicated that in terms of total investment to date, wave and tidal technology developers have already spent over £34.5 million and have directly created 99 person years of employment so far. And potential benefits could be greater still. Regeneris Consulting and the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School estimates that the wave and tidal industry could support anywhere between 70m and 840m of Gross Value Added (GVA) to Wales.
Mainstay Marine Solutions Ltd has built and assembled Tidal Energy Limited’s DeltaStream device at its facilities in Pembroke Port, demonstrating that Wales is continuing to accumulate the required skills and experience in the marine renewables sector. Encouragingly, international developers are also showing a commitment to using the Welsh supply chain. Discussing his 10MW Deep Green project planned for Anglesey, Minesto chief executive Anders Jansson stated “In the short term, around 30 direct jobs will be created, followed by hundreds more in the long term in areas like manufacturing, offshore operations and new project development.”