Crown Estate could invest £20m in wave/tidal projects

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The Crown Estate announced today that it is considering investing in the UK’s first wave and tidal stream array projects.

According to The Crown Estate, the decision follows a report last year that found there is potential for tens of gigawatts of wave and tidal projects around the UK.

In a statement, the business said: ‘We are considering investing up to £20m in total in two wave and/or tidal stream projects, alongside other companies and in parallel with grant support from government.

‘The investment will be in the construction of the projects, with each project involving multiple generation devices arranged in an array and with a total installed capacity of 3MW or greater.’

To be eligible for investment, projects must already have a Crown Estate agreement for lease, have or soon obtain statutory consents and grid connection agreements and be expected to reach final decisions for capital investment by March 2014.

Commenting on the announcement, Rob Hastings, director of the energy and infrastructure portfolio, said: ‘Several wave and tidal stream technologies are now proven and it is timely for the industry to move on to demonstration projects.

‘First arrays are important because they are on the critical path to larger schemes around the UK and worldwide. By bringing our capital and expertise to bear, we hope to catalyse investments by others and to see projects proceed to construction and operation as soon as possible.’

Welcoming today’s announcement, Dr Stephanie Merry, the Renewable Energy Association’s head of marine renewables, said: ‘This is yet another very welcome intervention from the Crown Estate.

‘The early-stage risks and long payback periods for investment in wave and tidal energy can make it difficult for budding and innovative developers to attract finance for projects.

‘Recent political uncertainty — not least over how the Energy Bill will be made to work for renewable energy — has only exacerbated the situation.

‘The Crown Estate is a well-established and well-respected body in the sector, and by putting its own money where its mouth is, we expect this to boost the confidence of other prospective investors.

‘The marine power sector in the UK is gearing up to deliver commercial scale array projects that will reap long-term economic benefits and enhance the technical expertise of the British power industry,’ added Richard Yemm, founder and director of Pelamis Wave Power. ‘Investment in those projects is vital at this stage in order to deliver on the industry’s potential, and it is positive news that The Crown Estate recognises this need to encourage the growth of the sector, as well as the opportunity it presents for the UK.’

Developers are now being invited to make expressions of interest about investment in their projects to the Crown Estate. A guidance document, which includes full eligibility criteria can be found here and at the bottom of this article.

The Crown Estate will be accepting applications to the fund until 15 February 2013.