The Crown Estate has agreed seabed rights for six new wave and tidal current demonstration zones, which for the first time will enable locally-based organisations to manage and sub-let parts of the seabed to a range of wave and tidal stream developers and for five new wave and tidal current sites, each with the potential to deliver a project of between 10 and 30 MW.
Rob Hastings, Director of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “By providing these additional seabed rights we are pleased to be enabling further technology development and commercialisation, which will be critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal current energy.
“This innovative approach to leasing the seabed sees us responding to market demand and introducing managed demonstration zones to give other organisations the opportunity to lend tangible support in their local areas.”
Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, said: “Today’s announcement is a great step for the development of wave and tidal stream industries. Wave and tidal stream are growing green, clean energy sources which have the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a sector worth, from exports alone, a possible £4 billion per annum by 2050.
“The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal stream energy. The Coalition Government has huge ambitions for this sector. Today’s news will help the UK ensure these sectors reach their full potential in our country’s future energy mix.”
The locations for the demonstration zones and project sites include three off the coast of England, four off the coast of Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and three off the coast of Wales.
The Crown Estate launched the wave and tidal current leasing process in October 2013 and these new demonstration zones are in areas specially chosen by The Crown Estate for their suitability for test and demonstration activities.
With this leasing process now complete, the next stage is for the demonstration zone managers to start to attract developers for the zones and to undertake further work, such as gathering environmental data that can help developers with the consenting process.
The Crown Estate will now consider how best to optimise future leasing processes as required to meet market appetite.
As a manager of the UK seabed, The Crown Estate grants rights to organisations to operate on the seabed. However, any projects must go through the statutory planning process, including stakeholder and community consultation, gaining consent from relevant planning authorities before development can commence.