By Max Clarke

Three major research and development projects that will help to develop the wave and tidal stream energy technologies of the future are set to benefit from government investment of over £2.5 million.

The investment, from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board, will help to finance research and development focussing on supporting and underpinning the deployment of pre-commercial, full scale devices installed and operating in the sea.

The companies leading the three projects are Bauer Renewables Ltd, Pelamis Wave Power Ltd and Marine Current Turbines Ltd. The total value of the research and development work, including contributions from the participating companies, will be over £9 million. Seven British companies and three universities will be involved in the work.

Bauer plan to design, manufacture and test novel seabed drilling technology for the installation of underwater device foundations aiming to reduce the cost of installation and deployment of tidal energy devices. The Pelamis-led project will test two P2 machines in an array, for the first time, to prove and demonstrate survivability, reliability, operability, maintainability and energy yield. Marine Current Turbines will research the impact of tidal arrays on the marine environment, through studies conducted of the SeaGen device at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:

“Investment in these projects will accelerate the pace of development of marine renewable energy in the UK. The projects will address a number of important technological challenges, including reducing the effect of the technologies on the environment and making the cost of wave and tidal stream energy production more competitive with other renewable energy sources. The UK is well placed to exploit wave and tidal stream energy resources and this kind of technology will be an important part of the renewable energy mix needed in the future”

This is the second recent investment by the Technology Strategy Board in wave and tidal stream energy technologies. In July 2010 the Board announced investments totalling £7 million in nine research and development projects, focussing on the twin aims of driving down the cost of energy while improving the reliability and performance of wave and tidal stream energy devices.