The publication of the Scottish Government’s revised Marine Energy Action Plan highlights the next steps the marine energy industry must take on its journey towards commercialisation. The first plan was published in 2009. Since then the sector has moved on considerably.
In these three years, for example, Aquamarine Power has attracted major investment and installed two full-scale devices at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
The Oyster 800, the wave energy pioneer’s second-generation machine, is now undergoing operational testing and has produced first electrical power to the grid.
Exciting times, but challenges remain.
As the new report highlights, finance remains a major challenge.
The Scottish Government has supported marine energy tremendously well to date, and its latest funding initiatives, the Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund, are well-designed for what the industry requires today.
I anticipate these funds will continue to leverage the vital private sector investment the sector needs to get the first wave farms developed in the next few years.
But as the report highlights, grid infrastructure and transmission charging remain major issues, and in our view the proposed high transmission charges for Scottish islands will jeopardise at least 66 per cent of all marine energy projects – a position we believe may be discriminatory against wave technology in particular.
That is why this action plan is particularly welcome. As with the previous report, the Scottish Government is demonstrating its willingness to work alongside industry to identify barriers to growth, and to work hard to remove these barriers and create a clear road map to commercialisation.
On finance we are moving ahead. With transmission charging we need a concerted effort to find solutions.