Ocean/Tidal Power Gets UK Government Boost

A new infusion of government funding into both public and private Renewable Energy projects aims to develop wave and tidal energy off the coast of England in an ongoing effort to meet the government’s targets for Renewable Energy generation.

London, England – March 24, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Energy Minister Brian Wilson outlined the pivotal role the Highlands and Islands of Scotland will play in securing Britain’s future energy needs. Speaking at a major conference on Renewable Energy on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Wilson announced £19 million (US$29.7 million) in new funding packages from both the government and the private sector, to encourage the rapid development of Renewable Energy – and particularly wave and tidal technology. “For the first time, a UK Government is putting the environment at the heart of its energy policy,” said Wilson. “We have put ourselves on a path to cutting our carbon emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050. Renewables are going to play a fundamental role in helping us to meet this target. The Minister hailed the “excellent progress” being made in developing major wind farms on the Isle of Lewis, which when built, could provide over 1000 MW of energy – equivalent to 1 percent of the UK’s total energy needs, while providing hundreds of manufacturing jobs. “These islands are surrounded by some of the best renewable resources in Europe, with strong prevailing winds and the power of the ocean. Today we are contemplating the real possibility that these islands could become a power house on the periphery, making a serious and environmentally sustainable contribution to the energy needs of the whole nation. That is a prize worth pursuing.” From the public purse, the Minister announced: – £2 million (US$3 million) of Government funding to build a Marine Energy Test Centre in Orkney and fund trials and development of two tidal stream energy projects, the ‘Stingray’ project and the ‘Seaflow’ project. – £2 million (US$3 million) to promote research and development in existing and new tidal and wave power technologies. – Work towards setting up a new capital grants scheme to support wave and tidal projects, worth at least £5 million (US$ 7.8 million). The Minister also announced investment from the commercial sector, outlining details of a new joint venture between Scottish & Southern Energy and Weir Group to develop new technology and prototype wave power schemes, worth up to £10 million (US$15.6 million). “This is the biggest investment we have seen so far in wind and tidal energy, ” Wilson. “We see it as a real breakthrough and a ringing endorsement of our policy of backing renewables. To get companies of this standing to move into the sector will give a lead to others. This new money is to ensure in the short term that we can maintain the momentum which has been created. The big drive to take wave power off the drawing board and into the water is really under way.” The Minister said the signals for the future development of renewables were ‘encouraging’, and pledged continued support from the Government, both in terms of policy and financial incentives, to encourage a “climate of confidence” in the young industry. He acknowledged that a fundamental overhaul of the electricity transmission system would be essential if the energy generated by new renewable technologies in remote areas such as the Western Isles would benefit the UK as a whole. “There are massive challenges still to be overcome,” said Wilson. “I cannot emphasize strongly enough the point that there is no point in generating power – indeed, there is no prospect of that happening – unless we can ensure as part of the same package that it is capable of being carried to the markets which require it. Infrastructure is all. We must rewire Britain to adapt to the age of renewables and of distributed generation. This is key to ensuring our White Paper ambitions are fulfilled. I intend to ensure that we do not fail them”.
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