The tide turns for marine energy projects in Wales
Marine Energy Wales has welcomed the announcement that four tidal stream projects, based in Welsh waters, have been given the green light to provide electricity to the National Grid, as part of the latest allocation round of the UK government’s renewable auction.
Over 22MW of tidal stream capacity has been contracted in Wales, including HydroWing with 10MW, Verdant with 4.9MW, MOR Energy with 4.5MW, and Magallanes Renovables with 3MW.
All four projects will be deployed at Morlais Tidal Demonstration Zone in Anglesey. In addition, a further 30MW of tidal stream projects secured contracts in Scotland.
Run by social enterprise Menter Mon, the consented 35 km2 area of seabed allows for the installation and commercial demonstration of multiple tidal energy devices.
Tidal stream technology, which produces energy from tidal currents, is predictable and consistent. It has already delivered over 70GWh of electricity to the grid – that’s enough to power more than 25,000 households for a whole year.
Welcoming the announcement, Tom Hill, Marine Energy Wales’ program manager, said: “This is hugely exciting news for the UK’s offshore renewable energy sector as a whole and a significant step forward for tidal stream technology. These contracts are vital, helping to accelerate the industry by providing a route to commercialization for developers, and ultimately leading the UK into a low carbon, energy secure future.
“The projects agreed a strike price of £198/MWh, which is a great result and provides much needed confidence to developers.
“Today’s announcement brings with it renewed optimism for the future of tidal energy in Wales. It is vital now that UK government continues to support tidal stream technologies and the renewable energy sector, ensuring that Wales and the rest of the UK is not left behind.”
Marine Energy Wales makes ‘to do’ list for UK government
The leading Welsh association for marine energy has called for the tidal stream ringfence to be maintained, with the suggestion to increase the ringfence from £10 million to £20 million to ensure more developers can progress.
Also, Marine Energy Wales states that more long-term visibility is needed on what the funding allocation might look like in future years to provide more confidence and a greater sense of certainty for project pipelines, and that contracts include enforceable ‘local content’ requirements to maximize local benefits to Wales and the UK.
“We want to see more incentives from UK government for marine energy developers to use local Welsh supply chains, which in turn will create high-paid skilled jobs and maximize the economic benefits of this hugely important industry.
“Marine renewable energy has a critical role to play if we are to succeed in decarbonizing the energy sector and achieve Net Zero by 2050, and Wales has the potential to take center stage,” concluded Hill.
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