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Historic marine power deals signed

Historic marine power deals signed
Marine energy development took a historic step forward yesterday with the announcement of the successful bidders for the world's first wave and tidal leasing scheme.

Marine energy development took a historic step forward yesterday with the announcement of the successful bidders for the world’s first wave and tidal leasing scheme.

Deals have been signed with the Crown Estates, which owns the UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles, for 10 renewable energy sites for the Pentland Firth and Orkney.

The projects are expected to generate £3billion-£4billion of investment and create “several thousand jobs” by 2020. And they should generate enough electricity to power up to 750,000 homes.

The 1.2gigawatts (GW) of energy would be four times the peak output of Dounreay nuclear power station when it was operating.

Seven developers have been allocated six wave energy and four tidal energy sites. Each technology has the potential to generate 600 megawatts (MW). The developers are SSE Renewables, Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables, Scottish Power Renewables, E.ON, Pelamis Wave Power, SSE Renewables and OpenHydro Site Developments, and Marine Current Turbines.

The successful bidders were announced in Edinburgh and simultaneously at Wick, in Caithness, and Kirkwall, in Orkney.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland was on the brink of becoming the renewables powerhouse of Europe.

“Today marks a major milestone in the global journey towards a low-carbon future, with the commercial-scale deployment of marine renewables set to power our economies and help safeguard the planet for generations to come,” he said.

“These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power and the wave and tidal projects, exceeding the initial 700MW target capacity, underline the rich natural resources of the waters off Scotland.”

The leasing round follows on from two offshore wind leasing rounds in Scottish waters, announced over the past year, with a combined capacity of 11.2GW.

Scotland Secretary Jim Murphy welcomed a “world-first for Scotland”. He said: “Scotland is naturally placed to make the most of this green revolution and we will continue to work with others to ensure the potential of Scottish waters, alongside wind power, is fully met.

“It is encouraging to see the number of successful bidders for the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. There is no doubt we are set to see a significant expansion in the commercial development of wave and tidal energy.”

Sandy Park, Highland Council convener and chairman of the advisory board to the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership, said: “This is an important milestone in the development of marine and tidal energy in the north and promises to play a key role in the redevelopment of the economy in Caithness and Sutherland.”

Mr Salmond said the developments had the potential to create several thousand jobs. Highlands and Islands Enterprise believes it could create 500 to 1,700 jobs in the far north.

The bidders are confident for the future, but have hurdles to overcome. Several billion pounds of investment will be needed for infrastructure developments such as harbours and improvements to the national grid.

Pressure is mounting on the UK Government to cut the high charges for generators in the north to transmit electricity to the national grid which are seen as a deterrent to green energy.

Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Jamie Stone said: “Unless the Scottish Government and enterprise network show the leadership and drive backed by proper investment to the extent necessary, an enormous opportunity could be lost.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise chairman William Roe said the agency would continue to target its expertise towards supporting developers, supply-chain companies, investors and local communities to create a globally successful industry and ensure the potential benefits are realised for Scotland.

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