New Scots wave energy body to get £14.3m budget

A welder works inside a wave power module. A new body set up to encourage innovation in the industry will receive more than 14 million pounds. Picture: Jane Barlow
A welder works inside a wave power module. A new body set up to encourage innovation in the industry will receive more than 14 million pounds. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A NEW body established to encourage innovation in the wave energy industry will receive more than £14 million in just over a year.

Wave Energy Scotland’s (WES) “significant” budget for the next 13 months was announced by energy minister Fergus Ewing.

The body will receive Scottish Government support of £1.3 million in the current financial year and £13 million in 2015/16.

Ministers announced the creation of WES in November last year after Edinburgh-based company Pelamis Wave Power announced it was calling in administrators.

The new body was tasked with bringing the best engineering and academic minds together to work on furthering wave technology.

WES has now awarded its first contract to a group of 12 former Pelamis employees, led by its former chief executive Richard Yemm.

Speaking ahead of a renewables conference in Edinburgh, Mr Ewing said: “I am very pleased to offer a significant budget of over £14 million to kick start Wave Energy Scotland.

“This is the biggest technology development programme the wave sector has ever seen.

“We have adopted a completely new approach to funding the sector. It is one that will foster collaborative research and development, and will encourage technology developers to work with large engineering companies, academics and each other to address shared challenges.

“As Professor Stephen Salter, the founding father of wave energy, said: ‘Developers need to be in alliance with each other against the hazards of the sea rather than fighting one another for inadequate funding’.

“I am also very glad that we were able to deliver on our aspiration to capture the know-how from device development and retain some of the best brains working in marine energy in Scotland.

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“Only last month, Highland and Islands Enterprise, on behalf of Wave Energy Scotland, successfully acquired the intellectual property and a range of physical assets previously owned by Pelamis. And yesterday, Wave Energy Scotland agreed to work with 12 former Pelamis employees to capture the impressive learning they have acquired on their technology development journey.”

Alex Paterson, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “The WES team don’t underestimate the challenges which lie ahead.

“But this is a chance not to be missed and the team is relishing being able to take a fresh approach to resolving the issues which so often hamper the early stages of the development of innovative technology.”

The £1.3 million budget for this financial year covers the costs of establishing the new entity and the costs of acquiring intellectual property and other assets from Pelamis.

The £13 million budget for next year will go towards work on technology and staff recruitment.

Lindsay Leask, a senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This money will enable WES to continue the development of wave energy in Scotland and build upon the global lead we enjoy by funding work on some of the key challenges commonly encountered by technology developers.

“The industry has recognised for some time that a collaborative approach to solving these problems is vital to ensure wave energy devices can develop to commercial scale, and WES provides a space for that to happen.

“It is also fantastic that WES’ first contract will help ensure that the talent and huge store of knowledge built up through the development of the Pelamis wave energy converter is kept in Scotland and used for the benefit of the wider industry.”

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