A great start to 2012 for South West Marine Energy Sector
There is a real sense that the momentum is building behind the wave, tidal and offshore wind energy sector in the South West. The year started with the announcement that the South West has been designated by government as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park (SW MEP). The designation recognises the fantastic assets and resources that we have, it has also created a very strong partnership through which industry can work together with the public sector and other bodies to remove barriers, de-risk projects, channel funding towards critical infrastructure and create the environment necessary to encourage investment.
The SW MEP launch has been accompanied by a number of very encouraging developments in the sector such as the government’s proposal to increase the market support for marine energy projects across the UK, Wave Hub securing Ocean Energy as a new customer and Siemens increased investment in Bristol based Marine Current Turbines – all very positive signs that the industry is moving forward and attracting investment. Perhaps the highlight for the South West was the deployment of Fred Olsen’s “Lifesaver” Wave energy device at FabTest in Falmouth Bay. This project, backed by local business partners Supacat and the University of Exeter, is a great advert for the south west marine energy industry and an example of what can be achieved when we work together.
So it’s been a good start to the year, and the further announcement last month that Pulse Tidal has been awarded a lease for a tidal energy demonstration site at Lynmouth in North Devon, means we now have an exciting tidal project to add to the SW MEP portfolio. In the next couple of months we will see further headlines including the opening of a new world leading Marine Sciences building at Plymouth University.
These successes show the potential for the south west to use its proud heritage of marine and engineering expertise to lead the development of marine energy, creating thousands of high value jobs. With two major offshore wind farms planned in the south west and developing wave and tidal projects it’s a great time for any south west business with the right skills and capabilities to break into the market. Companies like Plymouth based composite specialists Pipex are now turning the skills developed in the oil and gas sector to provide composite structures for the offshore wind sector. North Devon based Beran UK is another example of a company whose condition monitoring technology is easily transferable from aerospace and defence to wind and tidal turbines.
Getting into new sectors like offshore wind, wave and tidal is, of course, a challenge for local businesses. One route in is through innovation and technology development, often working with universities –south west companies like Supacat, Large Diameter Drilling and Mojo Maritime have come up with new innovative solutions to establish themselves in the market. Another route is to form collaborative partnerships as a means to gain critical scale and to combine capabilities to offer larger companies a complete service.
Whichever strategy is taken there is no substitute for building relationships and getting to know the market sector. That’s why Regen SW is working hard to make sure that south west businesses are best prepared with the knowledge and contacts needed to go to the market. For example running networking events such as the Crown Estate Offshore Wind Supply Chain Conference at the NEC Birmingham on 31st May where UK companies can meet with Offshore Wind farm developers and their main partners. To attend this event or find out how Regen SW can support your business in the marine and offshore energy sector please go to hwww.regensw.co.uk