Crown Estate to invest £20m in marine energy

The Crown Estate is gearing up to invest £20m into the UK's first wave and tidal stream array projects, in support of the emerging industry.

The move comes as a timely boost wave and tidal power after the Government cut its funding for marine energy from £50m to £20m in 2011.

As owners of the seabed around the UK, the development of the industry will be of particular benefit to the Crown Estate, which is accepting applications to the fund until February 15 2013.

The Crown Estate says it is considering the investment due to a report it released last year which found there is potential for tens of gigawatts of wave and tidal projects around the UK.

The investment will cover the construction of two wave and/or tidal steam projects, alongside other companies and in parallel with grant support from the Government. Each project will involve multiple generation devices arranged in an array, with a total installed capacity of 3 megawatts or more.

Energy and Infrastructure Portfolio director Rob Hastings said: “Several wave and tidal stream technologies are now proven and it is timely for the industry to move on to demonstration projects.

“First arrays are important because they are on the critical path to larger schemes around the UK and worldwide. By bringing our capital and expertise to bear, we hope to catalyse investments by others and to see projects proceed to construction and operation as soon as possible.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcomed the proposed investment, claiming it would boost investor confidence in the sector.

REA head of marine renewables Dr Stephanie Merry said: “This is yet another very welcome intervention from The Crown Estate. The early-stage risks and long payback periods for investment in wave and tidal energy can make it difficult for budding and innovative developers to attract finance for projects.

“Recent political uncertainty – not least over how the Energy Bill will be made to work for renewable energy – has only exacerbated the situation.”

Conor McGlone

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