Two energy firms aided by Carbon Trust

he Carbon Trust is providing half a million pounds to help two marine energy firms develop technology needed to deploy their systems in the sea.

Installation and maintenance currently account for up to 50 per cent of the project costs of wave and tidal energy and could delay more widespread deployment if not reduced.

The Carbon Trust is providing £250,000 to help move a 180-metre electricity-generating "sea snake" developed by Pelamis Wave Power onto a mooring many kilometres offshore.

The Carbon Trust and Pelamis are investigating a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that will assist with manoeuvring these giant machines into position. They will also integrate remote control technology into existing systems which will enable deployment in rougher seas.

The Pelamis wave power project is sited off the coast of Portugal and consists of a series of semi-submerged hinged cylindrical sections.

According to the backers, once the project is complete, it should provide enough energy for about 15,000 Portuguese households and potentially displace about 60,000 tonnes of C02 per year, which would have otherwise been consumed from conventional energy sources.

Portugal has invested heavily in renewable technologies and gets about 40.7 per cent of its energy from renewable sources including a large amount of hydroelectric power. Conversely, according to Friends of the Earth, the UK currently sources only two per cent of its energy from renewable sources but has some of the the best wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe.

Beth Dickens at Pelamis Wave Power said: "This project will allow more machines to be installed more often and more cheaply as we will not be as reliant on good weather conditions and specialist boats for the operation."

The organisation is also providing a further £150,000 to help Marine Current Turbines develop an innovative way to deploy its pioneering SeaGen tidal energy system.

The new method will involve a remotely operated sub-sea drilling platform which will install foundation piles in advance of the main turbine support structure being deployed as a single unit.

This would enable smaller and less expensive support vessels to be used for the offshore works, reducing the costs of turbine installation.

Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines, said: "The Carbon Trust's support is highly valuable to Marine Current Turbines and will help us to build upon our success with our first SeaGen commercial tidal turbine project in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough which is generating power into the local grid.

If successful, the technology will also be used by RWE npower renewables to deploy seven SeaGens in a planned 10MW tidal farm off Angelsey.

The Carbon Trust estimates energy from wave and tidal power could provide up to 20 per cent of the UK's current electricity and has the potential to cut carbon dioxide by tens of millions of tonnes.

Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust, said marine energy needs to be a key part of Britain's renewable plans.

"If we can bring down the costs of deploying this technology, we will be able to generate marine energy on a scale that will help meet our 2020 renewable target and deliver significant economic value as well," he said.

Recent analysis by the organisation found that 25 per cent of the world's wave technologies are already being developed in the UK. The analysis also showed that Britain could be the "natural owner" of the global wave power market, generating revenue worth £2bn per year by 2050 and up to 16,000 direct jobs.

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