The Scottish government has committed £14.3 million (US$22 million) in financial aid to support the development of wave energy, a sector that has been struggling in the last few years.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the country’s first wave energy technology development body, Wave Energy Scotland, will receive the funding. Of the amount, Wave Energy Scotland will get £1.3 million in the current financial year and £13 million in 2015-16.
The £1.3 million budget for this financial year covers the costs of establishing the new entity and the costs of the acquisition of intellectual property and other assets from Pelamis Wave Power, which collapsed after failing to secure development funding.
The wave-energy industry is struggling to reach commercial scale viability. It is in its infancy, and is relatively more expensive compared to other renewable energy technologies, like wind and solar, which are now competing with fossil fuels technologies in many countries because of lower costs and technological improvements. Developers for marine energy projects are finding it difficult to access meaningful amounts of funding to tap to develop their technology.
Besides Pelamis, Siemens AG last year announced the sale of its Marine Current Turbines Ltd. unit. Oceanlinx Ltd. and Wavebob Ltd. are amongst other marine energy companies that have gone under.
Wave Energy Scotland was set up in November last year to speed up development and encourage private investment in the industry. The £13 million budget for 2015-16 will allow Wave Energy Scotland to offer five funding calls worth £10.5 million to address a range of technology priorities, including power-take off systems, control systems, and moorings and foundations.
Wave Energy Scotland awarded its first contract to Highland and Islands Enterprise, which acquired the intellectual property and a range of physical assets previously owned by Pelamis.
“We have adopted a completely new approach to funding the sector. It is one that will foster collaborative research and development and will encourage technology developers to work with large engineering companies, academics and each other to address shared challenges.” Ferguson said. “As Professor Stephen Salter, the founding father of wave energy, said, “Developers need to be in alliance with each other against the hazards of the sea rather than fighting one another for inadequate funding”.”
HIE’s head of Offshore Development, Tim Hurst, has been appointed interim director of Wave Energy Scotland.