The Crown Estate has announced six new demonstration zones and five new project sites for wave and tidal energy.
The new project sites each have the potential to deliver a project of between 10 and 30MW and, for the first time, the new demonstration zones will enable locally-based organisations to manage and sub-let parts of the seabed to a range of wave and tidal stream developers.
The locations for the demonstration zones and project sites include three off the coast of England, four off the coast of Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and three off the coast of Wales.
Rob Hastings, director of energy and infrastructure at the Crown Estates, said: “By providing these additional seabed rights we are pleased to be enabling further technology development and commercialisation, which will be critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal current energy.
“This innovative approach to leasing the seabed sees us responding to market demand and introducing managed demonstration zones to give other organisations the opportunity to lend tangible support in their local areas.”
The Crown Estate launched the wave and tidal current leasing process in October 2013 and these new demonstration zones are in areas specially chosen for their suitability for test and demonstration activities.
With this leasing process now complete, the next stage is for the demonstration zone managers to start to attract developers for the zones and to undertake further work, such as gathering environmental data that can help developers with the consenting process.
Any projects still have to go through the statutory planning process, including stakeholder and community consultation, gaining consent from relevant planning authorities before development can commence.
The trade association representing the wind and marine energy industries, RenewableUK, has welcomed today’s announcement.
Wave and tidal development manager Dee Nunn said: “Expanding the remits of test centres like EMEC and Wave Hub to cover some of these demonstration zones will ensure that skills continue to be built up in the areas around the Marine Energy Parks.
“These leases add weight to the case for the expansion of grid connections to key wave and tidal energy sites such those as around the Scottish islands.
“The range of sites shows that many parts of the UK will benefit from this growth of wave and tidal power, from Cornwall to Orkney. In the longer term, these technologies have the potential to supply as much as 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, in a market which could be worth up to £800m to this country by 2035.”