Golden op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate hun­dreds of jobs in Anglesey

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Owen Hughes John Idris Jones

THE chance for Anglesey to lead the world in tidal tech­nol­ogy is “too good an op­por­tu­nity to miss” with the po­ten­tial to cre­ate hun­dreds of jobs.

That is the view of John Idris Jones, the project di­rec­tor of Mor­lais Marine En­ergy, which wants to cre­ate demon­stra­tion zones off the west coast of the is­land.

The multi-mil­lion pound project would se­cure the plan­ning per­mis­sion and grid in­fra­struc­ture that then paves the way for pri­vate en­ergy firms to de­velop and test their tidal tech­nol­ogy.

Mr Jones said that Anglesey and the UK can lead the way in this sec­tor, which he be­lieves can join wind power and nu­clear in help­ing pro­vide low-car­bon elec­tric­ity in the UK.

They al­ready have fund­ing to pur­sue the plan­ning per­mis­sions needed and de­sign the grid con­nec­tion. Mor­lais now hope to se­cure around £30m – in­clud­ing fund­ing as part of the North Wales Growth Bid – to de­velop the site.

Mr Jones said: “The UK has the op­por­tu­nity to be a global leader in tidal power and Anglesey can be at the cen­tre of that.

“With any new tech­nol­ogy, start­ing costs are ex­pen­sive but Mor­lais can be an en­abling project to de-risk schemes for com­pa­nies as they de­velop the tech­nol­ogy and make them cost ef­fec­tive.

“If we can get this set up then Anglesey can lead the way in the UK, at­tract­ing in­vest­ment to the is­land.

“There could be hun­dreds of jobs con­nected with this, from re­search and de­vel­op­ment to sup­ply in­dus­tries, like the ves­sels sup­port­ing these de­vel­op­ments.

“This is too good an op­por­tu­nity for Anglesey and North Wales to miss.”

The Crown Es­tate has des­ig­nated three zones in the UK for tidal stream en­ergy de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing the Mor­lais zone, si­t­u­ated off Holy Is­land.

A 45-year lease for this zone was awarded in April 2014 to en­ter­prise agency Men­ter Môn Ltd.

The zone ex­tends to 35km² of sea bed and can ac­com­mo­date up to 240MW of gen­er­a­tion.

Seven in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ers are al­ready on board with Mor­lais, from coun­tries in­clud­ing the Nether­lands, Ire­land and as far afield as the USA and Canada.

By pro­vid­ing a ‘Plug and Play’ sea bed zone, man­u­fac­tur­ers can in­stall their tur­bines in ar­ray for­ma­tion they can test and per­fect their schemes.

Mr Jones, who has spent decades in the nu­clear in­dus­try, said: “Tidal power can com­pli­ment wind and nu­clear power.

“For me the test of any en­ergy project is that they are safe, cost ef­fec­tive and bring a pos­i­tive im­pact to the area.

“This in­dus­try is at an early stage so costs are still high but I be­lieve they can reach a point where they can com­pare with wind power and nu­clear.

“It is a chal­lenge but the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits are huge if we can make Anglesey and North Wales the global cen­tre of this tech­nol­ogy.” A re­port com­mis­sioned by the UK Govern­ment, pub­lished this month, con­firms the po­ten­tial sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits of tidal stream en­ergy.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, pub­lished by The ORE Cat­a­pult, marine en­ergy in­dus­tries have the po­ten­tial to pro­vide a ma­jor jobs boost as well as achieve sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in car­bon emis­sions and costs.

The team is hope­ful re­port find­ings will fur­ther strengthen the project’s prospects for fu­ture rev­enue sup­port.

The scheme, sup­ported by Welsh Govern­ment and the Euro­pean Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund, has also se­cured fund­ing for con­sent and de­vel­op­ment from the Nu­clear De­com­mis­sion­ing Author­ity, the Isle of Anglesey County Coun­cil and tur­bine de­vel­op­ers.

The next step for Men­ter Môn is to at­tract fur­ther in­vest­ment to build the in­fra­struc­ture for the Mor­lais zone and to un­der­take con­sul­ta­tion.

Dafydd Gruffydd, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Men­ter Môn, said: “We wel­come the re­port find­ings – it’s good news for Anglesey and Mor­lais, which has the po­ten­tial to be one of the world’s lead­ing projects in marine en­ergy.

“The main driver for us at Men­ter Môn is to se­cure both eco­nomic and com­mu­nity ben­e­fits for the area.

“This is key to our val­ues as an or­gan­i­sa­tion, and is what lies be­hind our vi­sion for Mor­lais.”

The ORE Cat­a­pult re­port will now be passed to the De­part­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy, as well as the Scot­tish and Welsh Gov­ern­ments, where it is hoped it will pave the way for greater govern­ment sup­port, in­clud­ing rev­enue sup­port in the fu­ture.

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