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£2.3M FOR WAVE ENERGY ANNOUNCED

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Energy minister Brian Wilson today announced government funding of up ...
Energy minister Brian Wilson today announced government funding of up

to£2.3m to support the development and demonstration of a

series of new wave energy devices off the Western Isles.

The award will be made to Wavegen, based in Inverness, following

finalisation of the project's technical assessement by the DTI. The

funding offer will be based on three devices, located in shallow

waters and based on an extension of the oscillating water column

principles already demonstrated onshore.

Speaking in Stornoway, Mr Wilson said:

'I am a strong supporter of wave energy and am determined to ensure

that the UK remains the world leader as the technology takes off.

Wavegen have submitted a very exciting proposal for DTI funding and I

am convinced it can make a major contribution to the development of

this new industry.

'Our assessors are still pursuing a number of technical questions

with Wavegen but it is clear that there is sufficient merit in the

project for me to announce the Department's intention in principle to

back it. A formal letter of commitment will follow when issues

relating to the sequential development of the three devices and other

outstanding points have been resolved. I hope this can be done very

quickly.

'I am also very hopeful that Wavegen will choose to manufacture the

devices at Arnish on Lewis, leading to an early re-opening of the

yard. Arnish is an ideal facility for renewables-related

manufacturing and I am confident that it will soon be playing a major

role in supporting the huge expansion of renewable energy, both wind

and wave, in Scotland and beyond.'

Speaking later at the annual general meeting of Harris Development

Ltd in Tarbert, Isle of Harris, Mr Wilson said it was 'essential'

that communities should see direct, tangible benefits from renewable

energy developments in return for accepting and promoting them.

Mr Wilson added:

'If crofting law did not exist in the Highlands and Islands then it

would have to be invented for this purpose. Crofting communities are

entitled by law to half the development value of projects which take

place on their land. That is a principle which could usefully be

applied throughout the UK if we are serious about winning acceptance

for renewable projects.

'Developers will have noted the strong public support for renewables

projects in crofting areas. This is clearly related to the perceived

benefits in terms of both jobs and royalties. It is a message which

should not be lost on the industry, or indeed on landowners elsewhere

in the country. If they want support for their projects, they should

offer something in return.

'Better still, of course, there are community-owned estates in the

Highlands and Islands which are in a position to negotiate on their

own behalf. I can assure any community landowner of my own

Department's support, along with the Scottish executive, in

identifying and developing the energy assets at their disposal.'

Notes

1. The government is very supportive of renewable energy and has

set an ambitious target of securing 10% of electricity supplies

from renewables by 2010.

2. Wave energy is a potentially very exciting source of energy and

Wavegen have the only operational shoreline wave energy device in

the UK. It is widely accepted that the future for wave energy is to

move offshore where there is a much larger resource. Wavegen have

therefore applied for funding to develop an intermediate device

that will be used in shallow waters based on an extension of the

oscillating water column principles already demonstrated onshore.

The advantage of this concept is its simplicity.

3. The funding will come from the£100m allocated last year

by the prime minister for renewable energy development.

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