Welsh marine energy sector breaks record with €120M investment over last year
The Marine Energy Wales annual State of the Sector Report has highlighted the progress and achievements of Wales in the marine renewable energy sector, unveiling €120.4 million investment in the sector over last year – nearly quadrupling the previous year’s figures.
With a focus on infrastructure, supply chain, skills, and training, the report showcases Wales’ determination to become a global leader in the field of marine renewable energy.
The surge in investments is attributed to infrastructure expansions that are paving the way for future deployments and sector growth. The report also sheds light on the sector’s employment landscape, gender distribution, and the economic potential of various technologies.
The tidal stream segment emerged as the largest contributor to the Welsh economy, with €52.2 million in spending and investment, closely followed by the supply chain at €52 million.
The floating offshore wind (FLOW) sector demonstrated rapid growth, injecting €13.5 milion into the economy in the past year. With the potential to generate €1.16 billion in economic opportunities over the next five years alone, FLOW is poised to play a pivotal role in Wales’ marine energy sector.
Tom Hill, Marine Energy Wales’ program manager, said: “Revenue support for commercial-scale projects at a realistic market price is critical. The recent decision to reduce the tidal stream ringfence is deeply concerning, jeopardizing megawatt-scale tidal deployment in Wales and the UK.
“Despite having the world’s largest pre-consented demonstration zone in North Wales, market mechanisms and the loss of access to European funding schemes pose challenges to this innovative sector.”
Recognizing the importance of skills development, the report emphasizes regional initiatives aimed at fostering education and training for coastal communities.
These efforts aim to raise awareness of the economic and job opportunities available and strengthen Wales’ capacity to deliver local, well-paid, green jobs in the renewable energy industry.
Wales’ commitment to renewable energy
The report spotlights Wales for its dedication to renewable energy and the significant milestones achieved throughout the year.
One notable achievement is the approval of Wales’ first FLOW farm, Erebus, developed by Blue Gem Wind. This ground-breaking project has the capacity to generate clean power for 93,000 homes while exemplifying Wales’ commitment to responsible environmental stewardship.
Further strengthening Wales’ position as a marine energy hub, Magallanes Renovables received crucial UK government support to deploy their tidal stream technology to the Morlais Tidal Demonstration zone off the coast of Anglesey. This milestone will enable the first tidal array in Welsh waters, delivering reliable and predictable energy to up to 5,000 homes upon completion in 2025.
Quoted in the report, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh government is making a huge commitment to the offshore renewable energy sector.
“I truly believe that it could be a catalyst to providing not only green electrons and decarbonizing our communities and business, but also providing high quality career opportunities throughout Wales.
“We applaud the work of Marine Energy Wales and the wider marine energy sector and hope the great achievements made to date continue. The challenge of climate change facing all of us is too great and too important not to give our best efforts.”
What lies ahead for marine energy in Wales?
The future of Wales’ marine energy sector is promising, according to Marine Energy Wales.
The State of the Sector Report underscores the potential economic benefits and opportunities that lie ahead.
FLOW projects alone are projected to create a €1.16 billion economic opportunity in the next five years.
Tidal stream, supply chain diversification, wave energy, and tidal range technologies also demonstrate substantial growth potential, with estimated benefits of €303.9 million, €336.5 million, €137.4 million, and €80.3 million, respectively.
Tidal stream and supply chain are also set to benefit from this industry. Both are predicted to deliver an excess of €291.1 million to the Welsh economy.
To fully harness these prospects and ensure a thriving marine energy sector, the report emphasizes the importance of strategic infrastructure investment, skills and talent development, and an industry supportive political environment to allow this industry to continue to soar to new heights, the report concluded.
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