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English and Welsh waters checked for tidal power potential

English and Welsh waters are to be scoped for their potential to host marine energy devices.

A new study is to examine the potential for using wave, tidal-stream and tidal range technologies around the English and Welsh coastline, excluding the Severn Estuary.

Speaking at the British Wind Energy Agency tidal and wave conference, minister for sustainable development Lord Hunt said: “The marine energy sector has reached a pivotal stage with more and more devices ready to go into the water. The screening exercise in English and Welsh waters is a significant step forward in our plans to harness the power of our seas and secure a renewable and low carbon energy supply.”

The screening exercise will investigate the energy potential of marine energy devices and the realistic timescale of when multiple devices will be installed and commissioned. This work will also build on data already gathered for the Offshore Energy SEA, the Welsh Marine Energy Strategic Plan and other studies.

Developers, utilities and other relevant bodies should contribute to the plan, and nominate preferred locations for developing commercial scale Marine energy farms.

Conference chairman Alan Moore welcomed the proposals: “This announcement is great news for an industry which is a growing UK success story. It will open Britain’s coastline and estuaries to clean, green energy that will help power a low carbon economy.

“Britain is in pole-position to harness our natural wave & tidal resources, which across the world could potentially meet up to 20% of our energy needs and build a thriving manufacturing industry here in the UK in the process.”

Once complete, and gaps in knowledge identified, a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) for marine energy devices in England and Wales will be published.

The scoping exercise will exclude the Severn Estuary as the feasibility study for a marine barrage is already underway.

The Scottish Government has already produced a preliminary SEA for marine energy in Scotland, and Northern Ireland has also recently announced the appointment of consultants, to assessf offshore wind and marine renewables in Northern Irish waters.

AEA and Hartley Andersonhave been instructed to conduct the six month screening exercise ffor The Department of Energy and Climate Change.

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