Supplementary submission from the South
West of England Regional Development Agency
1. On 29 June 2007, the South West of England
Regional Development Agency (SW RDA) submitted written evidence
to the Science & Technologies Committee's inquiry into renewable
energy generation technologies.
2. The following is submitted as supplementary
evidence, addressing the issues that affect commercial deployment
of marine energy devices.
2.1 No devices have yet been deployed at
sea in multiple groups (arrays) for a sustained period of time.
Until this has taken place, investors are unlikely to commit to
the capital expenditure needed for a commercial scale project.
The Wave Hub reduces the cost, time and risk of this commercial
proving stage by providing shared infrastructure and a consented,
leased area of sea.
2.2 Regulators and stakeholders need to
understand the environmental impacts such projects would cause.
This is best achieved by a long term, comprehensive monitoring
framework rather than the more limited monitoring that can be
imposed through consent conditions. With support from SW RDA for
capital equipment and first year staffing, the Universities of
Plymouth and Exeter (in association with other research institutes
in the area) have established the Peninsula Research Institute
for Marine Renewable Energy (PRI-MaRE). This plans to put in place
a long term monitoring framework as well as associated industry
focused research. Their plans will shortly be discussed with the
relevant research councils, government departments and other funding
bodies and the willingness of these to align their priorities
with those of PRI-MaRE will be key to meeting this objective.
2.3 My understanding is that the companies
developing the devices could speed up their development if, through
the Universities or otherwise, applied research facilities were
available to undertake device specific testing of components,
stress testing, moorings testing and similar. The PRI-MaRE group
are also planning to introduce these services.
2.4 Investors in commercial, or pre-commercial,
projects would be given increased confidence if the short, medium
and longer term availability of grants and price support mechanisms
could be made clear. The proposed amendments to the Marine Renewables
Deployment Fund and changes to the Renewable Obligation Certificate
system are likely to be welcomed, but it would help if a statement
of intent could be given that the ROC system would not then be
withdrawn or reduced for the next, say, 20 or 25 years.
2.5 The consenting process is currently
being reformed and this is welcomed. SW RDA submitted comments
to a Defra consultation in 2007 and is willing to offer its experience
as an applicant for consent to the departments developing the
2.6 For marine renewables to develop on
a commercial scale in the South West of England, a process is
essential to reconcile the need for sites with those of others,
including merchant shipping, commercial fishing, recreation, marine
conservation and military. The process should be in place as soon
as possible to avoid ad hoc applications or new designations inhibiting
a better, more strategic, approach. In particular, the coastal
area around the South West is intensively used by many different
types of commercial fishing. Closure of significant areas will
have significant adverse effects and if marine conservation and
marine energy extraction were able to earmark the same sea areas,
these impacts could be reduced.
2.7 The electricity transmission and distribution
networks in South West England are known to have surplus capacity
currently, but with proposals such as the Atlantic Array on the
horizon this is limited and the full potential of marine renewables
may only be realised with some upgrading. Our knowledge of what
may be required and when is currently being developed.