The Westcountry’s marine renewables sector has received a £535,000 funding boost with the potential for millions more as part of Plymouth’s City Deal.
The funds will target marine renewable projects in Cornwall and Plymouth over the next two years with the aim of helping the sector to innovate and commercialise as well as supporting the development of the local supply chain.
The bulk of the new funding, £360,000, has come from the Offshore Renewables Delivery Programme a partnership between Cornwall Council and Plymouth University, and managed by Cornwall Development Company.
The funding includes a £50,000 investment from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Regional Growth Fund. It will create a marine renewables focused programme to de-risk and better resource the development pathway to commercialisation for developers.
It also includes the creation of an industry-led forum, chaired by Mike Reynolds of Falmouth-based A&P, which aims to develop the programme to offer support around deployment; technology development; supply chain and skills development; inward investment; access to funding and infrastructure requirements such as ports and grid.
The Cornwall Marine Network has secured £103,895 via the Interreg IVA Programme (England-France) and funded by the European Regional Development Fund for the Channel MOR project. The scheme aims to research, co-ordinate and grow supply chain and marketing opportunities for the marine renewables sectors of France and Cornwall. It will lead to the development of the Channel MOR Group which will work with organisations in France.
In addition, the Cornwall Marine Network has secured £72,000 to carry out research to map skills gaps, capacity and future requirements of the sector in Cornwall.
The agreement of Plymouth’s City Deal earlier this month, which experts say could lead to £296 million of investment, could also boost the sector as it has a strong focus on marine.
The next round of European funding for Cornwall, likely to be around £500 million, will also benefit the sector.
Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Marine renewable energy is a global market opportunity for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and this latest suite of investments will support the sector’s growth ambitions and build on the considerable assets we already have in the region.
“These include world-class test facilities spanning tank testing to full scale array deployment, backed by a depth of research and an established supply chain that is already exporting its expertise to other regions and around the world. Our aim is to smooth the path to commercialisation for marine renewable energy developers and ensure that we maintain a significant competitive advantage in a sector that has enormous potential for our region.”
In addition, South West Marine Energy Park partners have committed additional funding over the next two years to enable the virtual park to continue.
Peter Mitchell, managing director of leading wave energy company Seatricity, which recently announced plans to build a 10MW array at Wave Hub off the north coast of Cornwall over the next two years, added: “We have been impressed by the South West’s focus and support for the marine renewable sector. It was one of the key factors for us when deciding to move our operation to Cornwall and look to operate off Wave Hub this year. The technology pathway presents developers with a number of different challenges and I hope initiatives such as those being set up in the South West are going to help smooth the transition from early stage development through to the commercialisation stage.”