Green MSP demands action on tidal energy as Scotland dithers while French industry thrives

 

West Normandy tidal wave energy preparations
West Normandy’s tidal wave energy preparations

By DARA BUTTERFIELD

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, has challenged the Scottish Government to do more to support wave power jobs.

The Scottish tidal power industry has been hit by a financial wave in recent weeks which has seen Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power sink into administration and Aquamarine Power – also based in the capital – cutting nearly two thirds of its workforce.

Following earlier questions from Johnstone, the Scottish Government announced the setting up of an agency to share knowledge about wave energy. But it has emerged that this body has no staff, budget, or timescales for development as yet.

Johnstone said: “Wave energy has huge economic potential for Scotland. Public funding clearly remains crucial to the industry at this stage, so I’m calling on the Scottish Government to use some of the millions it received last week from Westminster to support wave power jobs.

“The new agency being promised by the government has no staff, no funding and no timescale as yet – it appears to be window dressing. Jobs and expertise risk being lost from Scotland while other countries advance on the technology.

“Ministers need to reassess their priorities because they are abandoning wave, while leaving the door open to unwelcome energy developments such as fracking.”

Meanwhile, in contrast to the situation in Scotland, French tidal power is surging forward with €120 million in new government tenders announced last week.

The West Normandy basin represents one of the three best tidal energy sites in the world, equivalent of 50% of European potential.

The region benefits from the Channel highly powerful sea currents. These natural elements associated with available structural strengths (3GW electricity network capability already available and ports infrastructures offering 100 hectares dedicated to RME) make West Normandy a privileged territory for RME.

The call-for-tender results confirm that West Normandy owns a world position beside countries like Scotland or Canada, in regards to tidal energy development.

The French experimental tidal farms plans are moving ahead announcing that the contracts will go to the consortia of Alstom/GDF Suez and DCNS/EDF Energies Nouvelles.

Laurent Beauvais – President of both West Normandy municipality and of West Normandy Marine Energy – said: “We are delighted to see these industrial leaders put their expertise at the service of a future energy.”

In October last year, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing signed an international agreement with the Normandy region in France to foster closer co-operation between the two countries in the marine energy sector.

Ironically – in the light of the commercial collapse of both Pelamis Wave Power and Aquamarine Wave Power – the then chief executives of both Edinburgh-based companies took part last year with the Scottish Energy Minister in promoting the Normandy tidal energy basin.

The agreement was signed by Fergus Ewing and Laurent Beauvais, President of the Lower Normandy region, in Edinburgh as part of the European Ocean Energy Conference – the first time this event has ever taken place outside of Brussels.

 See Scots Energy Minister signs marine power deal with Normandy Scottish Energy News 14 October 2013: http://goo.gl/s9ZRGX

 

 

 

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