Scots launch £35m offshore technology fund

A £35m injection of funding in support of new offshore wind technology, capable of operating in extreme deep water, was announced by Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond in Edinburgh.

Speaking today (September 27) Mr Salmond told the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference the new fund would ‘power’ Scotland’s renewables revolution as he unveiled it as the highlight of his vision of the re-industrialisation of Scotland, driven by the country’s huge renewable energy potential.

The fund, called Prototype Offshore Wind Energy Renewables Support (POWERS), is aimed at offshore wind turbine manufacturers and carries a clear message that Scotland remains a renewable-friendly option for developers.

“As developers and investors look across this global market for certainty and for leadership from government, they can look to Scotland to provide those things,” said the first minister.

“We are determined to remain among the most attractive locations for manufacturing,

including the prototype testing that follows the R&D phase.”

The £35m injection, which is expected to leverage up to a further £80m of private investment, will be administered by Scottish Enterprise and will run until March 2013.

“It will help to deliver our target of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020,” said the first minister, adding that the country was well on the way to achieving its 2020 goals.

He also stressed the fund would target technology developments linked to genuine offshore projects, 20 or 30 miles offshore.

This was the area of technology that would really matter in realising Scotland’s potential, not turbines sitting in a ‘puddle of water’ close to the shore.

Mr Salmond went on to paint a picture of a re-industrialised Scotland in which the country’s Clyde-based ship-building history would be revitalised into a future of wind turbine production and servicing.

He also gave a strong jobs message, stating that employment linked to the low carbon economy could reach 130,000 by 2020, equivalent to over 5% of the Scottish workforce.

He added that there were challenges to be faced, of course, and many of them.

The industry was working in a hugely demanding financial environment in which there was a need for businesses to buy-in to the energy vision, there was also a need for buy-in from the wider public.

The first minister pledged, however, that there would be no turning back from the path which had been set for the renewables industry.

It was also announced that Oyster wave energy developer Aquamarine Power has secured £7m of new funding and a commitment of further investment from existing shareholders over the next two years to help take the company to commercialisation in 2014.

“This is great news for Scotland’s world-leading wave power industry and a clear signal to the wider energy and investment community that marine technologies can be compelling investment propositions,” concluded the first minister.

Colin Ley

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