In August 2009, the Marine Energy Group (MEG) published its Marine Energy Road Map. MEG involves all the wave and tidal developers active in Scotland as well as the key public sector organisations in addition to others such as The Crown Estate and EMEC. This was an industry-led document which set out the key challenges facing the sector at the time. It highlighted barriers within strategic areas such as planning, finance, supply chain and grid, and recommended ways in which these barriers could be overcome. The Marine Energy Road Map was well received by the industry, public bodies and wider sector alike.
The rationale for the development of the Road Map was to build on Scotland’s potential for the development of wave and tidal stream energy. With 25% of Europe’s tidal stream resource and 10% of Europe’s wave resource, clearly Scotland has much to gain from further development and investment in the marine energy industry.
Given the Road Map’s success it was agreed that MEG would update the Road Map to reflect the major developments which have occurred in the sector since 2009 and address the existing challenges facing developers.
This Executive Summary (below) gives an overview of the progress that has been made in taking forward the original recommendations of the Marine Energy Road Map and sets out the next steps to be taken in realising Scotland’s potential to generate renewable energy not just for Scottish homes and businesses, but for UK and Europe too.
Recommendations, Progress and Challenges.
The recommendations contained within the Road Map were developed specifically around 5 work-streams. A short progress summary of the key activity within each of the work-streams and on-going challenges to be tackled is provided below.
Progress has been made in the area of financing the sector. This includes the allocation of £54m to support Scottish funded schemes linked to the marine renewables sector. The Scottish Government has also secured the partial release of £103m from Scotland’s Fossil Fuel levy reserves. Much of this allocation will be focused on the wave and tidal sector. However, there still remains a critical need for the development of further capital and revenue support mechanisms that will address the existing financial challenges currently facing wave and tidal energy projects, ensuring the continued development of marine renewables.
The issue of grid availability and charging is currently a major challenge for the wave and tidal industry. Whilst progress has been made in some areas such as the upgrade of the Beauly/Denny power line, there are ongoing challenges which remain to be addressed. These include the scale of the underwriting liability costs, which are often significant, and the unfair and costly charging regime for the Islands which disappointingly Project TransmiT has failed to rectify.
3. Infrastructure and Supply Chain
As the marine renewables sector continues to grow and develop, it is vital that we have robust infrastructure in place that is able to support this continued growth. It is encouraging therefore that significant progress has been made against the key recommendations detailed in the Road Map. The wave and tidal berths at EMEC, for example, are soon to be fully occupied. Thought must now be given to explore the further expansion of the EMEC site now that the demand for testing berths has increased across the industry. In addition, work on the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (N-RIP 3), specifically for the wave and tidal sector, must now be progressed so that the relevant infrastructure is in place for the build out of marine renewable array projects in the coming years.
Steady progress continues to be made around the planning. Regional Locational Guidance for example has been developed for further marine renewable leasing rounds and the Ministerial Planning and Consenting Task Force, established to examine and tackle planning and consenting barriers facing marine energy project developers, continues to make steady progress at developing strategies for over coming these barriers. It is essential however that the recommendations arising from the Minister’s Planning and Consenting Task Force are implemented at the earliest opportunity.
Scotland’s industry and Scottish public organisations have worked hard to raise the profile of marine renewables within Europe over the past few years. The Scottish Government has, and will continue, to take an active role in raising the profile of marine renewables across the EU. The Scottish industry will also support SEGEC’s lead in the European Energy Research Alliance Network (ERANET) for Europe’s marine renewables industry.
It is vital that we maintain the momentum achieved so far in developing Scotland’s marine renewables industry through the Marine Energy Group’s on-going commitment to implement the recommendations of this Action Plan. Through the implementation of these recommendations, Scotland will retain its position as global leader in the field of marine renewables..