Plans by Marine Current Turbines and its project partner RWE npower renewables to install and operate Wales’s first-ever tidal energy farm have moved a step closer with the granting of an Agreement for Lease by The Crown Estate for the Skerries Tidal Stream Array, which is proposed for the waters off the coast of Anglesey, northWales.
The proposed tidal energy scheme consists of up to nine turbines in an area between the Skerries group of rocks and islands andCarmelHead about 1Km off theAngleseycoast. The 10MW scheme, which has benefited from funding from the Welsh European Funding Office, will be capable of generating enough power to supply electricity to up to 10,000 homes approximately 20% ofAnglesey’s electricity demand.
The Crown Estate will issue the project a lease, a necessary pre-condition for any offshore sea-bed installation inUKwaters, once the required environmental consents for the project have been granted by the Welsh Government. The consents application was submitted to the Welsh Government in March 2011 and a decision is expected within the next few months. Marine Current Turbines is now ramping up its efforts to raise the finance to build the tidal array. The estimated project cost is £70million.
Dr Andrew Tyler, Chief Executive of Marine Current Turbines (MCT) said: With our proven SeaGen tidal technology and the necessary permits starting to fall into place, we are a good way along the path to deploy Wales first-ever tidal farm, and quite possibly the first tidal farm anywhere in UK waters. A critical element remains the financing of the Skerries project but I am confident that investment will be forthcoming given the valuable support to date by RWE and the strong interest in marine energy being shown by other utilities and energy companies. Our efforts are also helped by the UK Government’s declared ambitions to harness the energy in our coastal waters and to build a new clean-tech industry in this country.
The Skerries Tidal Stream Array will use MCTs proven and award-winning tidal energy technology known as SeaGen (which is essentially an underwater windmill) and will be able to contribute towards Anglesey’s vision to establish itself as a world renowned centre of excellence for demonstrating, producing and servicing low carbon energy as part of the Energy Island Programme.
Paul Catterall, RWE npower renewables’ Marine Technologies Manager, said: “We’re delighted that Marine Current Turbines has been able to take this crucial step towards bringing tidal energy technology closer to operation inWales. Tidal stream energy generation remains an exciting future opportunity for low carbon energy generation, and we’re delighted to be part of the work being undertaken by MCT, the world’s leading tidal technology developer.”
Subject to securing planning and financing for the project, MCT and RWE npower renewables are targeting 2014/2015 for the start of commissioning.
A consents application for the tidal array was submitted to the Welsh Government after extensive environmental and technical studies and consultation with a range of interests, including Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Mon County Council, the Countryside Council forWales, RSPB, Trinity House, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences.
In addition, MCT and RWE npower hosted a public exhibition in Holyhead (August 2010) and have spoken with a number of recreational groups that use the area including sailing, kayaking, diving and fishing groups. To date, the proposed scheme has been widely welcomed.
The Skerries tidal array is being taken forward by MCT and RWE npower renewables via a project development company set up specifically: SeaGeneration (Wales) Ltd.
To secure an Agreement for Lease, MCT and RWE npower had to provide assurance to The Crown Estate on a number of different aspects of the project, including its technical viability.