By Maximilian Clarke
The South West has today been named as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park, firmly placing the region on the international map for leadership in marine renewable energy.
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker made the announcement on a visit to Bristol where he met with key members of the new initiative.
“This is a real milestone for the marine industry and for the South West region in securing its place in renewables history as the first official marine energy park,” commented Minister Barker. “The South West can build on its existing unique mix of renewable energy resource and home-grown academic, technical and industrial expertise.”
The South West Marine Energy Park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall and as far as the Isles of Scilly. It will create a collaborative partnership in the region between national and local government, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter and industry including Cornwall’s famous Wave Hub. The aim of the partnership will be to speed up the progress of marine power development.
Energy from the waves or tides has the potential to generate up to 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from 8 coal-fired power stations, as well as helping to reduce emissions to fight climate change.
“Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn to the economy to 2050,” continued Barker.
“The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power, so we should capitalise on this leadership to make marine power a real contender in the future energy market.”
During his visit, the Minister launched the South West Marine Energy Park Prospectus which outlines how the region’s public and private sector will work together with the government and other key national bodies such as the Crown Estate.
The work to develop the South West Marine Energy Park has been commissioned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council. The work was undertaken by Regen SW.
“Cornwall’s marine energy programme is reinforced by more than a thousand years of industrial heritage," Cabinet member for economy at Cornwall Council, Chris Ridgers, said.
"The land and the sea have provided the foundation of Cornish entrepreneurship in engineering and innovation, recognised across the world. Now, in the 21st century, Cornwall continues to provide the perfect balance between resource, people and infrastructure supporting the South West Marine Energy Park and unlocking the potential of a global industry.”
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