South West Marine Energy Research
Sea-energy projects in the South West have received a boost through £10.3 million in research funding for the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE).
Established two years ago by the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter with funding from the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), PRIMaRE will use the funds to support its research team, buy new equipment and collaborate with business.
The new equipment is likely to include wave and tidal measuring devices, wave-making facilities, subsea electrical equipment, collision avoidance and monitoring equipment, and research into the environmental impact and benefits of marine renewable energy.
Research is expected to focus on the South West RDA’s planned wave hub, which the organisation claims will be the world’s largest wave farm when it starts operation next year.
Stephen Peacock, Enterprise and Innovation Director at the South West RDA, said this was a major step towards putting the South West at the forefront of clean energy research and production, and achieving the region’s aim of investing £70 million in low-carbon activities by 2012. He added: “We want our region to be one of the best places in the world to build a low-carbon business and a global leader in the development of environmental and renewable energy technologies.”
However, plans to increase wave-energy capacity in the region could be hampered by the news that legislation designed to streamline planning approval processes for offshore energy projects has been delayed.
According to some reports, the government has confirmed that its Marine Bill will now not be passed until the autumn, despite initial plans to see the legislation approved this summer.
One of the main goals of the bill is to streamline planning approval processes for wave, tidal and offshore wind projects, by replacing the numerous agencies that currently have to consider marine energy planning applications with one Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
Under the proposed legislation, projects of less than 100MW would only have to get consent from the MMO, while larger projects would have to seek approval from the Infrastructure Planning Commission.