By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has welcomed plans for the world’s largest commercial wave farm off the north-west coast of Lewis.
The 40MW project proposed by Aquamarine Power, which has received the full consent of Scottish Government ministers, will have the capacity to power nearly 30,000 homes.
Marine energy has the potential to deliver around 15 per cent of EU electricity demand and create an estimated 314,000 jobs across the continent by 2050.
Work is expected to begin as soon as a cable is laid across the Minch capable of delivering the electricity to the mainland grid. Last week the energy company SSE said it would not be able to commission work on the interconnector before 2017. It had previously been suggested that the interconnector, which will cost an estimated £705m, could be laid in 2015 and then 2016.
The chief executive of Aquamarine Power, Martin McAdam, said that being granted planning permission represented a “significant milestone” for the renewable energy company.
Mr McAdam said:
“The goal of our industry is to become commercial, and to do this we need two things – reliable technologies and a route to market.
“Our engineers are currently working hard on getting the technology right and we now have a site where we can install our first small farm, with a larger-scale commercial build out in the years ahead.”
Commenting, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan said:
“Today’s news creates further pressure on the UK authorities to move forward with the interconnector to the mainland which the renewables sector needs.
“Scotland holds 10% of Europe’s wave power potential, and 25% of its offshore wind and tidal power potential.
“A project of this scale – enough to power 30,000 homes – demonstrates the SNP Government’s commitment to pioneering a new technology that will create a sustainable Scottish energy sector and maximise Scotland’s potential on the world stage.
“Key to bringing jobs and investments to Scotland is for our industry to be at the forefront of innovation, which is why projects such as these are so important.
“The long-term boost to our economy that these technological developments could bring simply cannot be underestimated.
“There are billions of pounds and thousands of jobs up for grabs and this development shows how Scotland can be at the forefront of grasping these.”
Meanwhile the UK government’s confusion and lack of commitment to renewable energy was demonstrated in when UK Energy Minister Ed Davey announced renewable investment in Scotland, by suggesting in his press release that the Kilgallioch site, where a wind farm is due to be developed, is an offshore site. It is in fact on the border between Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire.
Energy, Economy and Tourism committee member SNP MSP Chic Brodie said:
“Ed Davey is all at sea on energy policy – mixing up onshore and offshore wind farms and causing uncertainty through continuing delays on Electricity Market Reform.
“It will come as a bit of a surprise to locals and energy companies to hear that Mr Davey thinks Kilgallioch is offshore.
“It’s perhaps no wonder that Westminster’s energy policy is in turmoil – with Ofgem warning of the UK’s lights going out – given this sort of gaffe from the UK Energy Minister.
“There is no substitute for local knowledge – illustrating yet again that the best people to govern Scotland are the people who care most, and know most about Scotland – the people who live here.”