Wales is positioned to become a major player in the global marine energy sector with a growing number of world leading developers stating their interest in developing projects in Welsh waters. The drive to develop this new industry in Wales is set to continue post – referendum. Key projects are already underway and a considerable EU funding pot remains available to developers – complemented by accessible sites, expertise and significant Welsh Government support for inward investment. And recent research clearly points to the positive contribution this new industry can make to economic growth and skilled job creation.
With €100.4 million of European Regional Development Fund prioritised by the Welsh Government for marine energy in Wales, two Demonstration Zones, seabed agreements in place for 3 separate 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.
A €13m grant was recently secured from the European Regional Development Fund by Minesto and they are currently in the delivery phase. CEO, Martin Edlund, said
“The referendum results will not affect Minesto’s EU project in Wales. The financial support is secured and tidal energy is now more important than ever for the region”.
David Jones, Marine Energy Pembrokeshire’s Project Director, said
“The marine energy sector offers a once in a generation opportunity to secure a predictable, low carbon economy. One that will help deliver growth, energy security and diversity and assist in meeting the UKs new 2030 carbon targets. The €100.4 million of ERDF is a crucial factor in helping Wales complete in a global market – and a number of companies are already moving through the funding process. Wales is open for business and we encourage device developers to come and explore the Welsh offer.”
Importantly, the industry has the potential to fulfil Wales’ desire for economic growth. Wales’ Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, pledged that, post-referendum, Wales will remain a great place to do business.
“Wales’ economy has developed hugely over recent years and now boasts a strong international reputation as a place to come and invest. This is partly down to our open, responsive and business-friendly approach. We remain committed to this, to developing Welsh business and to working with new partners to draw in investment.”
Clear UK policy needed
To fully capitalise on this opportunity the sector needs clear policy and a continuation of support from the UK Government. A new report has recently been published by RegenSW, Marine Energy Pembrokeshire and Highlands and Islands Enterprise highlighting the UKs current world leading position. Marine Energy: Key Steps to maintain a Great British Success Story states that nearly £half a billion new, mainly private, investment has gone into the sector across the UK with 77% captured within local supply chains. The report sets out the benefits of development and the status of the UK’s competitors in this global race for commercialisation.
After last week’s Brexit vote the message from Westminster has been the UK is “open for business”. This report argues that if we want to continue playing a leadership role in the development of new low carbon technology in Europe and beyond, Britain needs to back its own industry.