Isle of Wight tidal power scheme gains full approval

The Isle of Wight tidal power initiative, known as Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC), has been granted a planning permission to begin with the construction of onshore elements of the project.

A view from shore towards PTEC tidal turbine site, where the undersea electricity cables will reach land (Courtesy of PTEC)
A view from shore towards PTEC tidal turbine site, where the undersea electricity cables will reach land (Courtesy of PTEC)

On 14 December 2021, the Isle of Wight Council has unanimously approved the construction of a substation within the Southern Water Services compound to the west of Ventnor.

This approval is seen as a huge boost to the UK’s renewable energy sector, as PTEC now has all the consents in place to proceed with their proposal – England’s first multi-megawatt tidal stream power generation project.

PTEC, with consenting activities being managed by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), has already signed an agreement with technology developer Orbital Marine Power to deploy its O2 turbine with the project.

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This planning approval is particularly timely given the government’s announcement in November that it will support the tidal energy sector, the developers said. To remind, the UK government has committed to give £20 million per year in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) rounds, which opened earlier in December.

Rob Stevens, chairman of PTEC, said: “At a time when the world’s reliance on fossil fuels is causing significant challenges, gaining permission for the onshore elements of the PTEC project is of national importance.

“Once we have government support in place we can start work, with the aim to begin operations in 2025. Throughout the planning process, we’ve offered multiple opportunities and avenues for stakeholders and residents to engage with us, and their feedback has helped us shape our proposal. Going forward regular consultation and engagement will be fundamental to the construction process to make it as smooth as possible”.

This project has been in development since 2012. The local authority originally agreed permission for the onshore elements of the project in June 2015, and the Marine Management Organisation gave the offshore plans the go-ahead in April 2016.

However, a change in government policy in 2016 put the plans temporarily on hold. One result of the delay was that the onshore planning application needed to be resubmitted.

Onshore construction work is anticipated to begin in 2023, and be completed by 2025. In line with the commitments made during the public consultation process, PTEC will work with local residents and businesses to ensure minimal disturbance.

Matt Storey, technical project manager at EMEC, said: “The PTEC site is crucial as it now provides a clear consented pathway for the commercialisation of tidal stream power in England and is fully compliant for applications under the government’s CfD scheme.

It has been a pleasure to manage a project of such potential national importance with a client who committed to growing the marine energy industry. A zero-carbon energy mix is vital for the country to meet and hopefully exceed its climate goals”.