Marine energy should be ‘prioritised’ in Scot Gov draft budget, trade body says

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The Scottish marine energy sector should be “prioritised” in the Scottish Government’s draft budget, according to a renewables trade body.

Scottish Renewables yesterday submitted a package of measures to finance and economy minister, Derek Mackay, asking the government to invest in the Scottish wave and tidal sector.

The trade body said that the government’s draft budget should support the development of “innovative technologies which play to Scotland’s strengths”, adding that the draft budget should also “optimise Scotland’s tax and fees systems” to help grow fledgling renewables businesses.

Scotland currently has three leading tidal firms in Orbital Marine Power, Simec Atlantis Energy and Nova Innovation.

Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive of Scottish Renewables, described the Scottish marine energy sector as “a success story”.

She added: “Industry has worked closely with successive Scottish and UK Governments to get to a position where Scotland is generating enough electricity from renewable sources to meet 69% of our power needs, generating £5.5 billion in revenue in 2016 and employing 16,000 people.”

“The Scottish Government must ensure that this Draft Budget builds on the success to date in electricity generation.”

Neil Kermode, managing director at Orkney’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), backed the move.

He described Scotland is a “world leader” in wave and tidal, adding that past investment is “now paying dividends” in the creation of “local highly skilled jobs”.

Adding that Scotland was a “shop window” for the  sector, he said it had to “to retain its lead” through government support.

The removal of UK Government subsidy in 2017 caused a clamour for private investment within the sector.

In August, Orbital Marine Power boss, Andrew Scott, cautioned the sector may be about to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” through lack of investment.

But Dick Winchester, part of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, said last night that it could result in “too many firms chasing the same market”.

He said: “I would rather see two or three chasing it. Especially when it comes to tidal. The question has to be: what’s the overseas market for tidal? Where’s that going to come from and how big is it?

“Whatever the next stage is for tidal, they can probably develop most of that themselves in house.”