Marine energy to bring thousands of jobs

A new marine energy park off the north of Scotland will generate thousands of jobs and become a global leader, the UK’s energy minister said yesterday.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker formally launched the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park at North Highland College at Thurso.

He said it marked the “threshold of a new era” of marine energy development.

About 110 investors, developers and manufacturers attended the launch of the park, one of the largest in the world, which incorporates the existing European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.

Some of the globe’s fastest tides flow at more than 11mph in the narrow channel between Orkney and Caithness, helping turn the Pentland Firth into a world leader in the development of wave and tidal-energy devices.

Mr Barker said: “This is a real shot in the arm for the marine energy sector. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters is only the second marine energy park in the UK and, as such, is a key focus for any serious developers and investors in the sector.”

He said the new development would link with the existing park off south-west England and others to be formed in the future around the British coast to create a “series of world-class hubs” for marine renewables.

Mr Barker added: “If you look at the potential for electricity generation, we’re talking about gigawatts of potential, equal to eight coal-fired power stations, which in the long term will generate thousands of jobs and will be great for the local area.

“It is creating the drive forward for the domestic market for marine energy but also has the potential to tap into the global market and export technology worldwide. The UK is the global leader in this technology.”

The Pentland Firth development aims to bring together researchers, developers, investors and manufacturers for wind and tidal energy devices in one area to boost the industry and attract further cash and expertise.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The marine energy park designation of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region will further enhance Scotland’s leading position in marine renewables.

“This award recognises the work that has been done in leading the development of wave and tidal energy in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region for many years and proves that Scotland continues to be the jewel in the crown of all wave and tidal activity.”

The new designation was also welcomed by renewable energy firms now operating tidal and wave energy devices in the firth.

Richard Yemm, commercial director and founder of Pelamis Wave Power, said his company planned to develop 200 megawatts of wave-farm projects in the waters. “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,” he said.

Martin McAdam, chief executive officer of wave energy company Aquamarine Power, which is testing devices in the area, said: “The new marine energy park confirms the region’s status as a world leader in wave and tidal technology and will – we anticipate – accelerate the industry’s and the region’s ambitions for commercial success, new jobs and economic growth.