Archipelago off the coast of England to explore potential of wave, tidal and floating wind power
- Project will be based on the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago located off the south-west coast of England.
- Globally, the current footprint of marine-based energy systems remains small.
A year-long research project that will focus on the potential of tidal, wave and floating wind technology in waters off the coast of England has secured support from Marine-i, a program centered around innovation in areas such as marine energy.
The project will be based on the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago located off the south-west coast of England, and led by Isles of Scilly Community Venture, Planet A Energy and Waves4Power.
In a statement earlier this week, Marine-i — which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund — said the overarching aim of the Isles of Scilly initiative was to "build a new databank of wave and tidal resource data."
This data will include information on a range of metrics including wave height, wind speed and tidal stream velocities. Marine-i's support will come in the form of providing the consortium with access to experts at its partners: the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
"Being located nearly 30 miles off the south west coast of England, marine power is a natural choice for us and could make Scilly self-sufficient in energy," Jim Wrigley, from Isles of Scilly Community Venture, said Tuesday.
"However, an obstacle to this is that the key data that developers need to assess its viability does not currently exist in the level of detail required," he added.
Wrigley said the new databank "could be the key that unlocks some really exciting green energy solutions for Scilly."
With miles and miles of coastline, it's perhaps no surprise that the U.K. is home to a number of projects and initiatives related to marine energy.
Last month, it was announced that some £7.5 million ($10.3 million) of public funding would be used to support the development of eight wave energy projects led by U.K. universities.
March also saw the Port of London Authority give the go ahead for trials of tidal energy technology on a section of the Thames, a move which could eventually help to decarbonize operations connected to the river.
Research and development focused on these kinds of technologies is not restricted to the U.K. This week marine energy firm Minesto, which is developing a tidal energy project in the Faroe Islands, said its DG100 power plant had "delivered grid-compliant electricity at new record levels" during recent production runs.
And back in February, it was announced that a tidal turbine built and tested in Scotland had been installed in waters off a Japanese island chain. In a statement at the time, London-listed firm Simec Atlantis Energy said its pilot turbine had generated 10 megawatt hours in its first 10 days of operation.
There is growing interest in marine-based energy systems, but it should be noted that the current footprint of these technologies remains small.
Recent figures from Ocean Energy Europe show that only 260 kilowatts (kW) of tidal stream capacity was added in Europe last year, while just 200 kW of wave energy was installed.
By contrast, 2020 saw 14.7 gigawatts of wind energy capacity installed in Europe, according to industry body WindEurope.