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Plans for £60m Welsh marine energy hub move forward

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Government approves business case for Pembroke Dock Marine project, allowing plans for major new Marine Energy Test Area to move to next phase

Plans to build a world leading marine energy hub on the Welsh coast received a boost this week, after the UK and Welsh government approved the business case for the high profile Pembroke Dock Marine project.

The proposed £60m development would establish a Marine Energy Test Area within the Milford Haven Waterway which would be led by Marine Energy Wales and would enable technology developers to test their marine energy devices close to their base of operation.

It would also feature a new 90 square kilometre Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone delivered by Wave Hub Limited to enable the testing of full-scale wave and floating wind energy devices.

Meanwhile, a Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence would provide a technology, innovation and research centre delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

And the redevelopment of land at Pembroke Dock, which would be led by the Port of Milford Haven, would provide supporting infrastructure to the expanding marine energy industry.

The business case approval means Pembroke Dock Marine can now start accessing £18m of funding that the UK Government and Welsh Government have already released to the Swansea City Deal programme as a whole.

Pembroke Dock Marine is also seeking £28m from the £1.3bn City Deal programme in the coming years, which it expects to help leverage a further £32m of public and private funding.

“The impact of Covid-19 has further heightened the importance of Pembroke Dock Marine, so the project’s approval is very welcome news for Pembrokeshire’s residents and businesses,” said Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire Council. “Worth £73.5 million a year, Pembroke Dock Marine will also make our economy more resilient in future by transforming Pembrokeshire and the City Region as a whole into a global example of best practice for zero carbon, marine energy innovation.

“With phase one of the Marine Energy Test Area having already opened last year, we now stand ready and wholly committed to accelerate working with our partners to deliver the project. This project will place Pembrokeshire and the City Region at the heart of a growing global industry, helping further raise the region’s profile as a place to do business and invest in.”

His comments were echoed by Andy Jones, chief executive of the Port of Milford Haven, who said the latest approval was “an exciting step – not just for Pembrokeshire and the region but also for our economy, our communities and our environment as we work towards net zero decarbonisation targets”.

The marine energy industry is hoping to receive a boost from the government’s imminent green recovery package.

The UK boasts some of the best marine energy resources in the world and is home to a number of leading developers and test centres.

However, technical challenges and concerns over the relatively high cost of wave and tidal energy technologies have meant the sector has to date struggled to emulate the success of the offshore wind and solar sectors.

But advocates for the industry maintain that stable policy support and R&D funding could enable it to slash costs in the coming years, allowing it to provide a reliable and sizeable source of clean energy in support of the UK’s net zero emissions goals.

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