Holyrood unveils £14m wave pot
UPDATE: Ewing confirms Wave Energy Scotland backing beyond 2016
Scotland’s first wave energy technology development body will receive a total of £14.3m over the next 13 months, energy minister Fergus Ewing revealed today.
Wave Energy Scotland has awarded its first contract to a group of 12 former Pelamis employees, led by former chief executive Richard Yemm, to capture the knowledge of the company’s technology.
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Speaking ahead of the RenewableUK conference in Edinburgh, Ewing (pictured) said: “I am very pleased to offer a significant budget of over £14m to kick-start Wave Energy Scotland. This is the biggest technology development programme the wave sector has ever seen.
“We have adopted a completely new approach to funding the sector. It is one that will foster collaborative research and development and will encourage technology developers to work with large engineering companies, academics and each other to address shared challenges.”
A £1.3m budget for this financial year covers the costs of establishing the new entity and the costs of the acquisition of intellectual property and other assets from Pelamis.
A £13m budget for 2015/16 will allow WES to offer five funding calls worth £10.5m to address a range of technology priorities, including power-take off systems, control systems, and moorings and foundations.
It will also allow WES to recruit 10 to 12 employees and an industry-led advisory group. Holyrood said there will be an "open and competitive" recruitment process for staff and a call for the advisory group in March this year.
Speaking to reNEWS about the longevity of Wave Energy Scotland, Ewing added: “We can’t make budgets beyond 2016 but be in no doubt, our commitment to this is not going to end in April 2016. As the financial year progresses we will need to make plans beyond that.”
Alex Paterson, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “This is an exciting time for the wave energy sector in Scotland and offers a great opportunity to draw on the expertise which exists in industry and academia.”
Scottish Renewables welcomed the funding and said it was a sign of Holyrood’s continued commitment to the sector.
Senior policy manager for offshore wind and marine Lindsay Leask said: “This money will enable WES to continue the development of wave energy in Scotland and build upon the global lead we enjoy by funding work on some of the key challenges commonly encountered by technology developers.
“The industry has recognised for some time that a collaborative approach to solving these problems is vital to ensure wave energy devices can develop to commercial scale and WES provides a space for that to happen.
“It is also fantastic that WES’ first contract will help ensure that the talent and huge store of knowledge built up through the development of the Pelamis wave energy converter is kept in Scotland and used for the benefit of the wider industry.”
Image: Scottish government