The South West region has been named as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park today, in a move designed to place it on the international map for leadership in marine renewable energy.
The South West Marine Energy Park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall, incorporating Cornwall’s wave hub, which provides shared offshore infrastructure for the demonstration of wave energy generation devices, and the new marine science building in Plymouth within the project.
It will create a collaborative partnership between national and local government, local enterprise partnerships, the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter and industry to speed up the progress of marine power development.
Greg Barker declared the announcement a milestone for the marine industry and for the SW region on a visit to Bristol this morning, commenting that the UK should capitalise on its wave and tidal power leadership to make marine power a real contender in the future energy market.
“Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn to the economy to 2050,” said Mr Barker.
“The South West can build on its existing unique mix of renewable energy resource and home-grown academic, technical and industrial expertise,” the minister added.
The work to develop the South West Marine Energy Park has been commissioned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council and laid out in the South West Marine Energy Park Prospectus, which outlines how the region’s public and private sector will work together with the government and other key national bodies.
The prospectus was put together by Regen SW, a not-for-profit company dedicated to improving the uptake of renewable energy projects across the UK.
Programme director at Regen SW, Johnny Gowdy, said: “The launch of the South West Marine Energy Park is a recognition of the great resources, research facilities and businesses we have in the region – it also puts the South West in a position to attract future investment, and to be at the forefront of the new global marine energy industry”
Members from local councils across the South West welcomed today’s announcement. The leader of Plymouth City Council, councillor Vivien Pengelly, said: “The opportunity for growth and increased commercialisation in marine renewable energy, which underpins the ethos of the South West Marine Energy Park, represents a major opportunity to help Plymouth’s economy generate investment and jobs.”
Under the Renewables Obligation, the government is proposing to more than double the amount of financial support to wave and tidal stream technologies. Up to £20m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) budget will help progress the development of marine devices from the current large scale prototypes to bigger formations in the sea.
Energy from the waves or tides has the potential to generate up to 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from 8 coal-fired power stations, as well as helping to reduce emissions to fight climate change.