HRH Prince Andrew shows support for South West wave to energy company Orecon
His Royal Highness Prince Andrew has indicated he will tackle the Government on the tricky issue of marine energy pricing following a lengthy discussion with Cornwall-based wave energy producer Orecon.Orecon’s Chief Executive David Crisp was one of a small number of industry leaders invited to meet the Prince at a lunch organised by the South West Regional Development Agency.
David Crisp said: “I was lucky enough to spend a long time talking to the Prince about the renewable energy industry and the huge potential for the UK of wave energy and I was hugely impressed by both his knowledge and the extremely incisive questions that he asked.”
“His experience in the Royal Navy clearly helps him appreciate the marine challenges we are overcoming.”
Mr Crisp told the Prince who is the UK’s Special Representative for International trade and Investment that the industry was at a crucial stage.
He said: “I explained to him that as we speak the UK leads the world in the wave energy industry. We have the best wave resource in Europe which must be exploited as the ideal platform on which to develop UK wave energy conversion technology and expertise with the strategic intent of making the UK the dominant player in the global wave energy market in much the same way that Denmark dominates the wind market today.”
Remaining as a dominant force could have a significant long term impact on the UK’s economy as well with estimates on the size of the global wave energy market exceeding £150 billion.
David Crisp explained: “Based on the projection by the Carbon Trust of 15% of the UK electricity supply coming from wave, our estimate for the capital equipment market for the UK is in excess of £20bn and the USA £100bn. Wave energy can provide significant numbers of jobs and economic benefit in areas such as Cornwall and the south west.”
Said Mr Crisp: “Although the wave industry is in its early days, its biggest need is a stable, reliable and supportive pricing regime. This is more important than any cash handouts from government. The timescales of marine renewables are measured in years not months. Investors need confidence that by the time they start to recoup some return on their huge investments, through the sales of wave energy conversion devices, the pricing regime will still be in place.”
“His Royal Highness clearly understood the need for pricing support and I understand he will be making enquiries of the Government accordingly.”
And, offering to meet with Minister to discuss the issue further, he added: “The move to 2 ROCs for marine renewables is a start although it has not yet been formally implemented by parliament. However, what we really need is nearer to 4-5 ROCs/MWh as is being done in Scotland. Such a support regime does not cost the government any money and for the customers who pay the bill the impact, averaged out over the entire electricity supply market, is tiny.”
“Using Feed-in-Tarrifs or ROCs the support can be phased to reduce with increasing installed capacity and hence matched to the maturing of the technology and resulting cost reductions.”
Orecon will deploy its first 1.5MW buoy off the UK coast in summer 2010. Further units will be constructed the following year for deployment around the world in 2012. Final testing is currently underway with engineers confident that their deliberately low-tech yet high efficiency buoys have all the credentials needed to become industry leaders.