Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 71

Supplementary evidence from the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform following the evidence session on 23 January 2008

  At the evidence session on 23 January the Committee asked for a note on the number of applications that have so far been received from companies to BERR's Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF).

  As discussed at the Committee, the purpose of the MRDF is to take forward the demonstration of early stage pre-commercial wave and tidal stream technologies that have completed their R&D, but that are not yet commercially competitive within the market created by the Renewables Obligation.

  We therefore expect technology developers to have operated their devices for a period sufficient to help ensure that technologies are ready to be demonstrated and as MRDF projects have reasonable potential for success. A key eligibility criterion for the MRDF's Demonstration Scheme is to have operated at full scale in a representative range of realistic sea conditions for at least three months.

  There have to date been two applications to the MRDF's Demonstration Scheme. However, neither met the key eligibility criterion of the scheme so the applications did not proceed. The MRDF has three further components, Environmental Research, Related Research and Infrastructure Support to which funds have been committed.

  BERR's Research Advisory Group is taking forward generic research on the environmental impacts of wave and tidal stream and £2 million from the MRDF has been allocated to this activity.

  In May 2007 BERR published two monitoring protocols to enable the reporting of device performance in a consistent, transparent, and meaningful way. These were produced by Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities and funded under the related research part of the MRDF.

  Finally, under the infrastructure component, BERR has committed £4.5 million to the South West Regional Development Agency's £28 million Wave Hub project that will host a number of commercial scale wave energy projects ( and £1 million towards the new tidal-stream test facility at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney.

  Through the Energy White Paper the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB) were asked to look at how progress towards the commercialisation of these technologies might be accelerated and specifically to consider the reasons for low take-up of MRDF.

  The RAB report has now issued, and is expected to be published early next month (and will be available on the BERR website). It concluded that the MRDF Demonstration Scheme is sound and recommended that the three month criterion should continue fundamentally unchanged. The report makes several suggestions to make the scheme more accessible, which ministers are now considering, including that we interpret the three month criterion as flexibly as possible.

7 March 2008

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