Government invites bids for £22m marine energy fund

The Carbon Trust will administer the fund, which is intended to stimulate the development of renewable-energy technology
Written by Andrew Donoghue, Contributor

The government has invited marine-energy firms to bid for a share of a £22m fund that is intended to stimulate the development of such technology in the UK.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced that interested parties could now bid for access to the Marine Renewables Proving Fund, which was originally announced in July.

"Clean green renewable energy is a central component of our response to climate change and ensuring future energy supplies. The scope for wave and tidal energy around the UK's shores is massive and we're working closely with developers in the UK to bring on the necessary technologies," said energy and climate change minister Lord Hunt.

"The Proving Fund will help marine projects get off the drawing board and into the water, taking them a vital step closer to full-scale commercial viability."

The fund will be managed by climate-change advisory body The Carbon Trust as part of the government's wider Renewable Energy Strategy. Since 2003, The Carbon Trust has assessed around 60 different marine-energy harvesting devices and earmarked over £12m in funding for the sector.

"Wave and tidal power is a fantastic resource for the UK that could provide up to 20 percent of our current electricity demand and cut carbon dioxide by tens of millions of tonnes," said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust.

"There are many exciting technologies in development. However, for these to reach commercial viability, we need to focus on cost reduction and make mass deployment a reality."

Earlier in September, the Carbon Trust announced funding for two marine-energy companies, Pelamis Wave Power and Marine Current Turbines, as part of its existing Marine Energy Accelerator initiative. The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter is UK-funded and developed by a UK company. It has been likened by the Carbon Trust to a vast sea-snake.

The Carbon Trust says the wave-power industry could help create 16,000 green jobs and £2bn in revenue per year in the UK by 2050. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills also recently announced plans to create about 1,500 graduate placements to help support the marine-energy industry.

According to Greenpeace UK, the government has been slow to act when it comes to making the most of the sea energy. "Despite the lack of government support, some exciting progress has been made by pioneering UK companies and researchers," the organisation states on its renewable-energy site.

Technology companies such as IBM and Cisco are targeting the renewable energy market and have announced plans to help utility providers update their electricity grids to cope with the intermittent nature of power generated by wind, solar and wave sources.

Late last week, Cisco held the first of a series of quarterly meetings with a newly created board of utility companies to discuss the development of standards for smart grids.

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