The agreement, announced earlier today (8 July), will bring forward five new wave and tidal stream projects – each with the potential to deliver a project of between 10 and 30 MW – along with six new demonstration zones to facilitate innovation and commercialisation of new wave and tidal stream technologies.

The Crown Estate’s director of energy and infrastructure Rob Hastings said: “By providing these additional seabed rights, we are pleased to be enabling further technology development and commercialisation, which will be critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal current energy.

“This innovative approach to leasing the seabed sees us responding to market demand and introducing managed demonstration zones to give other organisations the opportunity to lend tangible support in their local areas.”

Energy security

The locations for the demonstration zones and project sites include three off the coast of England, four off the coast of Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and three off the coast of Wales.

The winning bidders include Siemens MCT, Minesto, Menter Môn, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Wave Hub.

The Renewable Energy Association’s head of marine renewable Dr Stephanie Merry believes today’s news is a ‘huge boost for efforts to use our seas to deliver low-carbon, home-grown energy to reduce damage to the climate and improve our energy security’.

“The wave and tidal sector is racing to get that first multiple device array into the water,” said Merry. “Once the first one is deployed, potential investors will be more confident about funding further projects. It’s helpful to have the seabed rights for such projects all tied up already.

Industry barriers

With four new demonstration wave and tidal zones and sites set to be built in Scottish waters, WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks added: “Having visited the existing wave and tidal power testing facility on Orkney, I know just how important it is to have sites for companies to trial marine renewable technologies. However, just as important as a location is the need for certainty from Government as to the role they want see wave and tidal play in the UK.

“As we approach the next General Election, the industry will be as keen as us to see what each of the political parties are saying on issues such as targets, grid connections and other barriers facing the industry.”

With this leasing process now complete, the next stage is for the demonstration zone managers to start to attract developers for the zones and to undertake further work, such as gathering environmental data that can help developers with the consenting process.

Separately, the Crown Estate has also today announced plans for a leasing process later this summer for tidal range projects.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie