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Could Wales become a world leader in marine energy?

Posted on 12th October 2020 by Marketing Executive - Katherine Ducie

Wales marine energy - Aerial view of the Welsh coast

Marine energy in Wales could create 3,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

Plans to develop Wales marine renewable energy is expected to create 3,000 jobs over the next 10 years, which could mean more job opportunities for skilled energy contractors here in the UK.

With an increased investment of £27.5 million in marine projects over the past year, Wales has the potential to become a world leader in marine energy, says former energy minister, Lord Peter Hain (1).

Lord Hain, who served as a Labour MP and senior minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (2), described there being ‘vast untapped potential’ around the Welsh coast.

He’s urging the Welsh government and private investors to drive forward Wales’ marine energy potential.

A recent report by Marine Energy Wales shows 16 marine energy developers are actively progressing projects in Wales, with seabed agreements in place for over 532 MW of marine energy sites (3).

One of these projects includes a £590 million tidal lagoon in North Wales.

On top of that, other sites equalling almost 3.5 GW have been identified, plus a proposed 100MW floating offshore wind project in the Celtic Sea, which once developed would be the largest floating wind project in the world.

A group of test and demonstration sites are also in the pipeline. Once developed, these will provide test beds for wave, tidal stream and floating wind technologies.

What marine energy developments are there in Wales?

Currently in Wales, there are wave, tidal stream, tidal range and floating offshore wind energy projects developments underway in areas including Swansea Bay, Pembroke Dock, Holyhead and Flintshire.

In Holyhead, the marine energy technology developer Minesto, has set up the first of its kind energy generation, which works like an underwater kite.

Investment in Welsh marine energy developments has more than doubled in the past 5 years, from £45.4 million in 2015 to £123.7 million in 2020.

Some international wave and tidal developers have even relocated their headquarters to Wales. In 2017, Bombora Wave Power moved its operations from Australia to Wales.

Marine energy hot spots around the UK

The UK is considered a global leader in developing offshore renewable energy technologies.

At present, it is home to 23 wave developers and 22 tidal device developers. Last year it was announced that more wave and tidal energy devices have been appointed in the UK than in the rest of the world combined (4).

As well as Wales, other parts of the UK including Scotland and the South West of England have thriving marine energy developments.

Scotland is delivering the world’s largest tidal array, MeyGen, which in 2019 had generated enough energy to power nearly 5,500 homes.

Marine energy companies Orbital Marine Power and Nova Innovation are also based in Scotland.

The South West of England has development sites including the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre on the Isle of Wight and WaveHub in Cornwall.

WaveHub is expecting to make up to £76 million over 10 years, which is estimated to provide 170 jobs potentially.

More opportunities for energy contractors

With lots of marine energy developments and great scope for growth around the UK over the next 20 years, the skills of experienced energy contractors will be much needed, and job opportunities close to home will increase.

An analysis from 2016 found that the marine energy sector provided 1,700 jobs across Wales and Scotland.

It’s predicted that by 2040, this figure will have grown in abundance with the marine energy sector set to create around 22,600 jobs across the UK (4).

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Sources:

1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53248578

2 https://peterhain.uk/about-peter/

3 https://www.marineenergywales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/MEW-State-Of-The-Sector-2020.pdf

4 https://www.marineenergywales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/uk_marine_energy_2019.pdf

https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-06/marine-energy-plan.pdf

https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/how-can-scotland-become-world-leader-wave-energy-2912603

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