Marine Power Gets Big Boost In United Kingdom

Paving the way for more marine power development in U.K. waters, the Crown Estate issued eight new preliminary leases for wave and tidal energy projects, bringing the total number of backed projects to over 30 – with at least two dozen of them in Scotland.

The Crown Estate said the move was indicative of “how U.K. companies are taking strides forward towards commercial deployment of wave and tidal energy, particularly in Scotland.” While the agreements give companies exclusive rights to develop areas of seabed, the Crown Estate noted that they do not have a free pass to begin installing projects. “Before construction begins and prior to the Crown Estate issuing leases for any of the sites, the developers will need to obtain statutory consents from relevant government regulators, such as Marine Scotland or the Marine Management Organisation,” the Crown Estate said.

U.K. marine energy development

image via Pelamis Wave Power

The new agreements range in size from small demonstration projects to commercial ventures that could produce as much as 30 megawatts (MW) of power.

Among those receiving good news with the announcement was Pelamis Wave Power, which hopes to build a 10-MW wave farm that would be the first such development for the Western Isles, a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the Northwest coast of Scotland. (The area of most intense interest in Scotland has been the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters.)

Wales, too, is looking to break into marine power for the first time, with the Skerries Tidal Stream Array, which is proposed for the waters off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales, gaining preliminary approval.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.