The government has approved Pembroke Dock Marine’s business project. This will allow plans for a major new marine energy test area to progress to the next stage.
Earlier this week, the UK Government and Welsh Government approved the business case to build a world class marine energy hub on the Welsh coast. This will be for the high-profile Pembroke Dock Marine project.
A marine energy test area would be built within the Milford Haven Waterway, enabling technology developers to test their marine energy devices closer to their operating base. The initiative will be led by Marine Energy Wales, and the proposed development costs are around £60 million.
Additionally, Wave Hub Limited will deliver a new 90 square kilometre Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone. This will allow for full-scale testing of wave and floating wind energy technology. The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult would provide a technology, innovation and research centre known as the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence.
The land at Pembroke Dock will undergo redevelopment, to make all of this possible. This will help create the necessary infrastructure for the growing marine energy industry.
Now that the business case has been approved. Pembroke Dock Marine will be granted access to £18m of funding, released by the UK Government and Welsh Government to the Swansea City Deal programme. Furthermore, Pembroke Dock Marine is also seeking a further £28m from the £1.3bn City Deal programme over the coming years.
Cllr David Simpson, leader of Pembrokeshire Council, said: "The impact of Covid-19 has further heightened the importance of Pembroke Dock Marine, so the project's approval is very welcome news for Pembrokeshire's residents and businesses. Worth £73.5 million a year, Pembroke Dock Marine will also make our economy more resilient in [the] future by transforming Pembrokeshire and the City Region as a whole into a global example of best practice for zero carbon, marine energy innovation.
"With phase one of the Marine Energy Test Area having already opened last year, we now stand ready and wholly committed to accelerate working with our partners to deliver the project. This project will place Pembrokeshire and the City Region at the heart of a growing global industry, helping further raise the region's profile as a place to do business and invest in."
Andy Jones, chief executive of the Port of Milford Haven, echoed this sentiment by saying the latest approval was "an exciting step - not just for Pembrokeshire and the region but also for our economy, our communities and our environment as we work towards net zero decarbonisation targets".
The marine energy industry will receive a big boost from the government's latest green recovery package. The UK already has one of the best marine energy resources in the world, including a number of leading developers and test centres.
This doesn’t come without technical challenges though. There are concerns that tidal and wave energy technologies are relatively expensive. This has meant the sector has struggled to emulate the success of the country’s offshore wind and solar sectors.
However, many advocates are convinced that stable policy support and funding for research and development could enable it to cut costs over the coming years. This should allow the sector to provide a reliable and large amount of clean energy, which will support the UK's net zero emissions goals.