Wales’ tidal lagoon challenge outlines next steps

Marine Energy Wales has recently hosted an informative webinar on Welsh government’s tidal lagoon challenge, which provided a valuable insight into the proposed research priorities, grant application process, and next steps for the project.

Illustration/Blue Eden tidal lagoon project plan (Courtesy of DST Innovations)
Illustration/Blue Eden tidal lagoon project plan (Courtesy of DST Innovations)
Illustration/Blue Eden tidal lagoon project plan (Courtesy of DST Innovations)

The webinar was hosted by Marine Energy Wales’ project manager Jay Sheppard, and commercial director Sarah-Joy Lewis from Local Partnerships, who is supporting the government to deliver their commitment to the Tidal Lagoon Challenge.

To remind, the Welsh government made available €850,000 (£750,000) for at least three research projects focusing on the deployment of tidal lagoon technology as part of the challenge.

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Sarah-Joy Lewis outlined the three proposed research priorities and aims, covering also the grant application process, due to be published in the next six months, before inviting comments and suggestions.

When it comes to research priorities for the challenge, the Welsh government committed to advancing research in three key areas, including environment, engineering and technical, and socioeconomic and financial.

As for the funding, Local Partnerships presented its proposed grant application process which is designed to conducted in two stages.

The first stage will involve submitting a high-level application showcasing how the proposed project aligns with the objectives of the Welsh government. The highest scoring proposals will progress to the second phase. At this stage, applicants will be required to provide more detailed information on their proposals.

Sarah-Joy Lewis outlined that a minimum of three projects will be awarded. However, there is a possibility that the £750,000 will be split between more than three.

54% of participants of the webinar voted for the highest level of funding for their project (£225,000-£250,000), implying there may be little room for any additional projects outside of the original three awards, should most projects apply for the highest level of funding. 

Local Partnerships sought to clarify if participants would consider match funding, with 46% voting ‘yes’, whilst 50% voted ‘don’t know’, and 4% ‘no’.

Match funding would mean that projects can cost significantly more than the funding available from the Welsh government. However, Local Partnerships confirmed that project awards will not be given based on cost. 

In addition, 96% of participants said they would consider working with another organization when they apply, making the case for better collaboration and opportunity for the research to really enable industry in this way.

Local Partnerships are looking to launch the first stage of the challenge in the next six months, with awards expected to be given in spring 2024

“The Tidal Lagoon Challenge webinar turned out to be a spectacularly interesting and worthwhile event, helping participants to understand the main research areas Welsh government is considering, as well as the factors influencing their decision, and the proposed grant application process.

“What is clear is that there is lots of opportunity for excellent research to help strengthen the business case for tidal range in Wales to UK government and make Wales a leader in tidal range technology,” Marine Energy Wales said.

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