During a visit to Thurso in Caithness on 30 July, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change Greg Barker opened the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park. Marine energy park that incorporates the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC, European Centre for marine energy), the world leader in this field. EMEC is currently testing nine devices and plans to install five more over the next three years. The Marine Energy Park (MEP, Marine Energy Park) is expected to enhance the international profile of the region and its reputation as a world leader in the field of marine energy. It is based on regional partnerships between government, local entities such as Orkney Island or Highland and Islands Enterprises, and a core of local expertise and renewable resources present in this area of Scotland, in order to allow for further development Quick energies.
Pentland Firth is the second MEP to emerge in the territory after the South West MEP inaugurated January 23, 2012, between Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The main objective of the MEP is to promote public and private partnerships, and facilitate the commercialization of emerging technologies in the field of marine energy. According to the Carbon Trust, there are currently more than 46 devices based on wave energy and tidal test in the UK, much higher than in the rest of the world. We consider in fact only 17 in the United States and 10 in Canada, respectively second and third winners of the Carbon Trust.
According to government estimates, marine energy could provide up to 20% of the needs of UK electricity by 2050, with a potential of 27 GW, equivalent to the energy supplied by eight central Charcoal. The development of marine energy could also help reduce carbon emissions in the country. Shortly before the opening of the MEP, Stephen Wyatt, director of the accelerator technology in the Carbon Trust, said that realistically, marine energy could potentially provide 13 GW of electricity by 2050, 11% total demand in the United Kingdom, and create up to 26,000 jobs, making a profit of £ 3 billion to the UK economy. To date, eight scale devices are tested, however, production costs are very high, and it is often difficult to find investors for these projects with risky for the time limited returns.
Established in 2001, the Carbon Trust is a global organization that aims to help businesses, governments and agencies to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. His expertise is based on the implementation of development strategies and technologies with low emissions and regulating carbon footprints. Promoting low carbon actions, the purpose of the Carbon Trust aims to contribute to the green goals of our time encouraging the reduction of emissions, developing clean industries, improving energy security, and the creation of jobs.
The week before the opening of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, the British government encouraged investors to fund marine projects. However, Stephen Wyatt believes that government funding of the order of hundreds of millions of pounds will still be essential to help reduce the cost of production. The Carbon Trust has estimated the cost of producing energy from waves 40 p / kWh, and 30-35 p / kWh for oil (estimates based on current technologies used in the production farms). This price is compared to the current cost of energy (6 p / kWh), and the electricity supplied by offshore wind farms (between 10 and 18 p / kWh). According to Stephen Wyatt, the production cost of marine energy could reach 18 p / kWh in 2025, with a production of about 0.9 GW, with support and funding appropriate government.
During the inauguration, the Minister of Energy and Climate Change said: “The UK is already a leader in terms of energy from waves and tides, and it is imperative that we continue on this path so that marine energy reach their potential in our future energy mix. ”
Councillor Steven Heddle, President of the Council of the Isles of Orkney, said the test sites EMEC, in the waters around the Orkney Islands, represented unique equipment in the world to test and certify marine energy, and a clear advantage for the UK in terms of competitiveness. In addition to the investments already made by the Council of the Isles of Orkney, it has also ensured that the Council would provide further financial support for the development of equipment Lyness, Hatston and Stromness, demonstrating their confidence in the work of the EMEC and the MEP.
The opening of the second British MEP, the world’s largest to date, marks once again the lead taken by the United Kingdom in the field of marine energy. These research centers, including a strong presence in Scotland, represent one of the country hopes to achieve lower carbon emissions in the process of producing electricity. However, research in this area is still backward in phases, and the production cost is very high. It will thus be seen if the government succeeds in attracting enough investors, while financing itself the development of this research for marine energy able to take the place desired by the leaders in the future energy mix of the country.