Scotland gets its first marine energy park in Pentland Firth
SCOTLAND’S first marine energy park was officially launched yesterday in one of the most turbulent stretches of waters in the world.
• The narrow channel between Orkney and Caithness has some of the world’s fastest tides
The Pentland Firth, the narrow channel between Orkney and Caithness, boasts some of the fastest tides and biggest waves around the globe. This has already attracted a host of energy developers, and yesterday’s announcement aims to build on its international profile.
The park will incorporate the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) where testing of a wide range of innovative wave and tidal energy devices by numerous firms is under way.
The park will be promoted globally by the UK and Scottish governments to attract both private companies to invest in the area and marine energy students from universities.
Westminster’s energy minister, Greg Barker, said: “Marine power is a growing green, clean source of power which has the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15 billion to the economy by 2050.”
He said energy from waves or the tide had the potential to generate 27GW of electricity in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from eight coal-fired power stations.
The UK’s first marine energy park, located off south-west England, was announced earlier this year. The area around Orkneywas chosen as the next location because of its high tidal stream.
Speaking as the seas raged off Scrabster Harbour in Caithness, Mr Barker said: “This stretch of water is home to the European Marine Energy Centre, currently unrivalled in the world. This park will help bring together local knowledge and expertise to spur on further development.
“It’s great to see Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters confirm their place on the marine power map with the launch of the second of the UK marine energy parks.”
EMEC opened in 2003 with £30 million of public funding from the Scottish and UK governments, local councils and the European Union. It has 14 berths for testing tidal energy technology and the operators said it was now self-sufficient.
Companies such as ScottishPower Renewables and E.ON use EMEC to test wave power capture machines.
Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the the park’s creation “proves Scotland continues to be the jewel in the crown of all wave and tidal activity”.
He said: “Progress in Scottish wave and tidal renewables has been staggering, but the Scottish Government recognises that more financial support is needed to help the sector achieve its fullest potential.”
Richard Yemm, founder of Pelamis Wave Power and representing the marine energy industry yesterday, said: “This marine energy park creates an even more solid platform for commercialisation of the sector in these waters, while maximising economic benefits for the local community.
“Collectively, Pelamis and our customers E.ON and ScottishPower Renewables are developing 200MW of wave farm projects within the new Marine Energy Park. Today’s announcement further underpins our commitment to this region, and puts in place another cornerstone for the next stages of our commercial development.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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