THE South West of England has been named as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park in a move that will put the region on the international map for marine renewables.
The park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall and as far as the Isles of Scilly. It will create a partnership of national and local government, local enterprise organisations, universities and industry to accelerate the progress of marine power development.
UK climate change minister Greg Barker made the announcement on a visit to Bristol. “This is a real milestone for the marine industry and for the South West region in securing its place in renewables history as the first official marine energy park,” he said. “Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15 billion to the economy to 2050.
“The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power, so we should capitalise on this leadership to make marine power a real contender in the future energy market.”
In the past seven years £100m has been invested in the south west marine energy industry to create research and demonstration facilities. That has supported the development of the largest consented area for marine technologies in the world at Cornwall’s Wave Hub, the Fab–Test nursery site at Falmouth, a marine science building at Plymouth and research facilities at Exeter University and the National Composites Centre at Bristol.
Other areas, such as in the Pentland Firth and Orkney, are working on developing a marine energy park based on their own activities.