The British government has named the South West of England -- home of the Wave Hub ocean power test facility -- the United Kingdom's first Low Carbon Economic Area.
Lord Mandelson, secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills, made the announcement July 15, 2009, at the launch of the government's Low Carbon Industrial Strategy in London. (RenewableEnergyWorld 7/16/09)
With the announcement came the U.K.'s release of 19.5 million pounds (US$31.8 million) as part of a 100 million pound (US$163.4 million), two-year investment program in marine renewable energy being led by the region's South West Regional Development Agency (RDA).
The government money includes 9.5 million pounds (US$15.5 million) for the Wave Hub testing facility off England's Cornwall coast. (HydroWorld 5/6/09) Wave Hub’s electrical "socket" on the seabed is to allow ocean energy developers to conduct large-scale testing of their equipment before going into commercial production.
The additional 10 million pounds (US$16.3 million) from the British government is being made available to RDA to support other marine energy projects in the South West.
The European Regional Development Fund's Convergence Program also announced it will invest 20 million pounds (US$32.7 million) in Wave Hub.
"Being identified as the U.K.'s first Low Carbon Economic Area is a tremendous accolade and recognition of our commitment to develop this unprecedented economic opportunity," Executive Director Stephen Peacock of RDA Enterprise and Innovation said. "We want to forge a new industry from the seas around our shores and today's announcements cement our position as a global leader in wave and tidal technologies."
Region gives consent to Wave Hub construction
RDA also announced July 15 its official approval allowing Wave Hub to proceed. An independent economic impact assessment commissioned by RDA found Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and generate 560 million pounds (US$915 million) in the U.K. economy over 25 years. Nearly 1,000 of those jobs and 332 million pounds (US$542 million) of that money would be generated in South West England, the study said.
"We have our consent, our funding, and our first developer signed up," Peacock said. "Ocean Power Technologies has been working with us from the start and are one of the world's leading wave energy companies."
The 42 million pound (US$68.6 million) Wave Hub is to be capable of supporting 20 MW of ocean energy, with the potential to increase to 50 MW.
JDR Cable Systems received a 7.6 million pound (US$12.4 million) contract to manufacture Wave Hub's 26.5-kilometer cable and hub assembly at its new factory in Hartlepool.
RDA also awarded a 229,000 pound (US$374,275) research and development grant to wave device developer Orecon Ltd. of the United Kingdom. In March, RDA named Orecon to replace Oceanlinx Ltd. of Australia as the fourth wave energy developer to test at Wave Hub. (HydroWorld 3/13/09)