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Marine operations at the European Marine Energy Centre test site (Credit: Mike Brookes-Roper)

Further funding for marine energy announced

Marine energy received a further boost today after Scotland’s Energy Minister announced £4 million of funding for testing.

The announcement was made at the Renewable UK Wave and Tidal Conference in London, where Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Greg Barker yesterday revealed the winners of £20 million of funding for two projects to demonstrate the operation of wave or tidal devices in array formation.

And today Fergus Ewing announced that the Scottish Government and Highlands and Island Enterprise are providing £3 million to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, to enable it to expand its testing facilities by creating an additional berth for a wave device connected to the grid.

In his speech, Mr Ewing welcomed a £7 billion upgrade by Scottish grid companies but warned Scotland’s potential to generate power from renewables would never be realised without the right grid infrastructure in place.

He said: “We must ensure that the transmission charging regime does not discourage development from taking place around Scotland’s islands”.

Mr Ewing also announced that EMEC will run a £1.1 million project to assess the way that support vessels are used to install and maintain wave and tidal devices in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “This very welcome announcement of funding by the Scottish Energy Minister will help to accelerate growth and generate further private investment in the wave and tidal sector. EMEC is continuing to attract global interest as an advanced workshop for developing wave and tidal energy.”

The conference also saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park and South West Marine Energy Park, which extends from Bristol to Cornwall.

The agreement forms a working partnership that will result in increased collaboration and the sharing of ideas between England and Scotland.

Peter Kydd, strategic director at Parsons Brinckerhoff, who signed the agreement as chairman of the South West Marine Energy Park, said: “We are very pleased to be working in close partnership with our colleagues in Scotland – there are already very strong relationships between companies and research facilities in the two regions, it makes sense therefore that the UK’s first two Marine Energy Parks should be working together to promote and accelerate the commercial development of marine energy technologies”

Calum Davidson, Director of Energy and Low Carbon at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), who signed on behalf of The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters MEP, said: "We are delighted that the Highlands and Islands’ role in the development of the marine energy sector is being recognised nationally and internationally through the signing of the MoU with the south west.

“The memorandum of understanding recognises the work already being undertaken by both regions and will help to accelerate their place on the worldwide marine energy stage as well as attracting investment and furthering the industry's ambition for commercialisation."

Yesterday’s big news at the conference was the selection of the Skerries Tidal Stream Array developed by SeaGen and joint venture MeyGen in the Pentland Firth in Scotland as winners of the Marine Energy Array Demonstrator (MEAD) scheme.

Today, the National Renewable Energy Centre, Narec, has announced that it will test the prototype power train for the SeaGen-S 2MW device developed by Siemens-owned Marine Current Turbines (MCT).

The six-month programme at Narec in Northumberland will focus on validating the new 1MW power train, comprising of low-speed thrust bearings, gearbox and generator, as well as the power conversion, control system and grid interface.

Andrew Mill, Chief Executive at Narec, said: “We are delighted MCT has chosen Narec to play a significant role in supporting the commercialisation of their new tidal energy device.  MCT will benefit from full-scale onshore testing in our 3MW capacity drive train test facility in preparation for deployment offshore.

“Confirmation of a second major client to utilise the new facility is further evidence of the value of accelerated life testing to support the growth of tidal renewables in the UK.”

Testing will begin this summer and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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