Scotland unveils new Marine Energy Action Plan

The Scottish government has unveiled a new marine energy action plan, in an effort to accelerate the development of the country’s burgeoning wave and tidal sector.

The revised plan, which replaces one first released in 2009, was developed by Scotland’s wave and tidal industry, outlining both the progress made so far and the challenges ahead. The blueprint from the industry-led Marine Energy Group (MEG) includes recommendations to improve access to finance, grid development, infrastructure and supply chain, the planning regime and engagement with Europe.

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: “Importantly, it [the plan] outlines the steps now required to be taken by governments, public agencies and the private sector to realise the industry’s ambitions. It makes clear that grid development remains a priority for the industry and that must include a fair system of transmission charging for renewables generation in the islands.”

He added: “The Marine Energy Group, rightly, also encourages the Scottish and UK governments to continue our engagement with the EU on the issue of strategic European-level support for the sector. With the right support, our wave and tidal resources can be fully mobilised to play a key role in delivering the EU’s ambitions for low carbon energy generation and sustainable economic growth.”

Since 2009, Scotland’s marine sector has seen the launch of the world’s first commercial wave and tidal leasing round for 1.6GW of marine energy capacity, alongside additional leasing opportunities through demonstration sites and rounds to support competitors in £10 million Saltire Prize. Meanwhile, 11 wave and tidal devices have been deployed at the Orkneys’ European Marine Energy Centre EMEC, with a further three to deploy by 2014.

Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power, which has deployed its Oyster wave device at EMEC, welcomed the report, adding that grid issues need to be addressed urgently.

Aquamarine Power chief executive Martin McAdam said: “Grid infrastructure and transmission charging remain major issues, and in our view the proposed high transmission charges for Scottish islands will jeopardise at least 66% of all marine energy projects – a position we believe may be discriminatory against wave technology in particular.”
The report also highlighted that financing for marine energy projects remains a problem.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Many developers have already proven their technology works but securing the necessary finance to help them take the next steps towards commercial scale arrays is a major challenge, not to mention being faced with massive costs to connect their projects to the grid.

He added: “We need greater financial opportunities for developers and a clear route to market with fairer transmission costs, particularly for the islands.”

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