Wales tidal energy project nabs $2.9 million in EU funding

May 3, 2013 at 12:06 AM
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CARDIFF, Wales, May 3 (UPI) -- A tidal energy project off the west coast of Wales has received $2.9 million in EU funding, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said this week.

Jones, speaking Wednesday at the RenewableUK Conference in Cardiff, said the allocation from the European Regional Development Fund will be put toward the deployment of the DeltaStream device developed by Tidal Energy Ltd., which has headquarters in the Welsh capital.

The device, designed to generate energy from tidal currents on the seabed, is to be installed next year in Ramsey Sound in Pembrokeshire, and will be connected to the local electric grid in St. Davids, Wales, over a 12-month demonstration period.

If the trial of the single 400-kilowatt turbine is successful, that will be followed by two more turbines of the same size in 2014-15, the company says.

The EU grant, awarded through the Welsh European Funding Office, follows an infusion of $10 million in 2011.

Jones said the DeltaStream project is one of several renewable energy initiatives the Welsh government is backing, adding he has launched a new governmental effort to better coordinate them.

"So that we continue to deliver our low-carbon ambitions, I will be chairing and hosting a strategic delivery group to ensure strong engagement with stakeholders to enable collaboration and remove any barriers to achieving our vision," Jones said.

A $109 million tidal energy farm off the coast of Anglesey -- the Skerries Tidal Stream Array -- won government approval in February, the BBC reported, while a much larger $1 billion tidal project has been proposed for Swansea Bay.

The DeltaStream technology set for Ramsey Sound sits on the seabed under its own gravity. The site was chosen among 24 candidates after an extensive selection process that covered the whole of Britain, Tidal Energy Ltd., Managing Director Martin Murphy said.

Among its advantages were that it was sheltered from prevailing wind and wave conditions, had good water depths close to the mainland and boasts fast tidal streams, reaching up to 6 knots during spring tides.

"This is a really exciting time for us," Murphy said. "We have all the necessary operating consents, have completed the grid work for the project, and are now preparing for our first at-sea tests."

He said the remaining principal contractors on the contract are to be hired shortly, while staff at the firm's Cardiff headquarters will be expanded.

"We want to assemble the device in Pembrokeshire, with a view to using it as an operational base," the executive said. "There are plentiful resources here in Wales for marine renewable development as well as a wealth of expertise."

Meanwhile, the developers of the Swansea Bay tidal project last month launched a $15.5 million share offering to help finance the project through the early planning and research stages, The Western Mail reported.

The company, Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, says its proposed facility would boast an installed capacity of 250 megawatts and would produce 450 gigawatt hours of electricity -- enough to supply the needs of 107,000 homes.

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