Last Week, Copper’s Lisa Childs attended Marine Energy Wales conference in Swansea.

 

Marine Energy Wales brings together technology developers, the supply chain, academia and the public sector to establish Wales as a global leader in sustainable marine energy generation, making a significant contribution to a low carbon economy.

It is clear that the sector needs reassurance and confidence from government and the Crown Estate regarding FLOWMIS funding and leasing round 5 in the Celtic Sea. Political uncertainty and a drawn-out period of speculation regarding the General Election hampers the sector and the Wales’ ability to meet its net zero commitments.

 

Ports are key to unlocking success – with Minister Julie James announcing at the conference that up to £1m will be match funded by Milford Haven Port Authority for preparatory work to enable future floating offshore wind projects to deploy from Pembroke. This builds on a similar match-funded grant made to Associated British Ports for early-stage work at Port Talbot announced in January 2023.

 

The Minister for Climate Change also used her keynote address to announce the winners of the Welsh Government Tidal Lagoon Challenge, with a value £750,000. These were Swansea University (Environmental), Cardiff University (Engineering & Technical), and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (Economic & Finance). This is an important step forward for tidal range projects, and a welcome signal of confidence in the burgeoning industry.

 

The conference coincided with four tidal stream projects at Morlais Demonstration Zone awarded contracts for difference, and news of a year-long feasibility study to further evaluate tidal power in the Severn Estuary, with its potential to provide up to 7% of the UK’s electricity. We watch with interest to see whether the project will encourage tidal stream, tidal range or a combination of both.

 

We also learned that innovative consenting routes are the norm – not the exception, when it comes to marine and offshore projects. Developers are encouraged to think creatively and collaboratively about their routes to consent and stakeholder engagement.

 

An example of such innovation is ABP’s Future Port Talbot project which is combining TCPA applications, Marine Licenses and a Harbour Revision Order (Works Order) to realise its vision. ABP’s Claire Stephenson, Consents and Planning Lead for the Future Port Talbot described the careful balancing act that such an approach means by engaging with three consenting bodies simultaneously – these are Welsh Government, Neath Port Talbot Council, and National Resources Wales.

 

Interested in finding out more about Copper’s work within Wales? Get in touch with Lisa Childs!