Despite some recent high-profile exits from Scotland’s fledgling wave power industry, the picture is not all gloomy.
That was the key message from Tim Hurst, newly appointed as managing director (he was appointed initially on an interim-basis) of the Wave Energy Scotland quango at a sector conference at All-Energy in Glasgow this week.
“Many people took the collapse of Pelamis as being the end of the road <for the industry>”Hurst said. “But, post-Pelamis, new suppliers are now coming into the market.
“Nevertheless, despite some high expectations of the sector overall, it is certainly looking like it’s in a bit of a trough at the moment. The issue is ‘How do we climb out of the trough?.’
“We have to take a longer term view of the problems. We do need public sector finance and we do need continuing public support. And we do need to get to mature technologies which generate market confidence.”
Hurst also appeared to take a leaf out of the (many) pages of the Wood Review – which demanded greater collaboration and co-operation by sharing pipelines – in the oil and gas industry.
He added: “We too have to learn lessons from the mistakes of the past. We need to avoid duplication of effort in research and development in the wave power industry and we do need to foster collaboration and co-ordination and we also need to increase credibility of wave power technology by increased verification and standardisation of industry standards and benchmarks.”
Hurst – a former RAF engineer – also called for greater collaboration and cross-fertilisation between the wave industry and academia. Funding totalling £7m for ‘power take-off’ technology projects is presently available for bids – the deadline is 22 May.
He also said that Wave Energy Scotland aims to work with other stakeholders – including the offshore wind and wave catapult, funded by the UK government. When asked to quantify the any potentially inefficient overlap of effort by ORE and WES (which is also funded by the taxpayer), Hurst said he did not think this exists.
Wave Energy Scotland is itself part of another quango – Highlands Enterprise.