Monday 2 March 2015

Renewable UK W&T 2015 - Wave Energy Scotland

The most interesting news from last week's Renewable UK wave and tidal conference was undoubtedly the first details about Wave Energy Scotland.

Wave Energy Scotland: when in rough waters, maintain a steady course

There were some astoundingly good signals from WES. Here are the numbers:

  • Budget: £1.3m for financial year 14/15; £13m for 15/16.
  • Typical funding limit per type of project: feasibility £50K (6 months), concept optimisation £500K (12 months), small scale prototype £2.5m (12-24months); large scale prototype £4m (12-24 months).
  • Over the next few months there will be themed funding calls with the typical breakdown of project size being: 5 x feasibility; 3 x optimisation, 2 x small prototype, 1 x large prototype
  • The themes for the calls are March – PTO; April - WEC concepts; May, June, July: calls for control, foundations and moorings (order not specified yet).
  • Requirement for call: anyone from Europe, as long as work is done in Scotland. The funding must conform to State Aid rules.
  • Money already spent: acquisition of all Pelamis assets.
  • People: 16 ex-Pelamis staff hired: Richard Yemm + 11 in a new company called 'Quoceant'; 3 operating the EMEC prototypes, and 1 staff member operating independently.
  • Next month: recruitment of 10-12 core staff, and an industry advisory board.

The answers to audience questions about WES showed just what a bold endeavour this is. Andrew Mills (EMEC) asked what WES's longer term commitment was? Fergus Ewing (Scottish minister for Tourism, Business& Energy) answered that the more successful WES is, the more support it will attract from the EU and UK, as well as the private sector, which he deemed to be essential. He suggested collaborating with French and Canadian research programmes because 'nascent industries are not appropriate for competition'. Tim Probert (ReNews) asked more directly 'does WES have a shelf-life?'. Ewing answered 'We plan to continue until the job is done. Commercialisation is unlikely in 4 years.'  Tim later asked whether the £14.3m budget was enough to achieve WES's aims. Tim Hurst (WES) answered that there would never be enough; it was a matter of getting a balance between what was available and what it could be usefully spent on.

Political support for wave power: a mixed bag

Scotland: the support from Fergus Ewing and Janine Kellett (Head of Offshore Renewables Policy Team) was both strong and pragmatic. Even the existence of an Offshore Renewables Policy Team in Scotland is a good sign.

UK: Trevor Raggart (DECC) however warned of uncertainties and possible changes. While support for marine renewables is 'written into the fabric for the next few months', this might change. There is a political focus on reducing the impact of renewables on consumer bills. The new Contract for Difference is one way of making renewables more affordable. Wave and tidal are the only technologies have been granted access to revenue support for the first 100MW without the need for competition, but this provision is only guaranteed until 2019.

EU: Remi Guet (Ocean Energy Europe) quoted JC Juncker (EU president) as saying that the EU wanted to move away from an economy dominated by fossil fuels, and there was an ambition to become the world leader in renewable energy. Remi drew attention to the multi-billion ‘European Fund for Strategic Development’. However, he warned that ‘we should not expect too much’ because only technologies that were deemed to be economically viable ‘with the fund’ would be eligible.

Image credits

Haggis Cart by Digi Colleen:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Ashutosh Verma for drawing my attention to the first funding call:



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