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22 March 2022

The Crown Estate to invest £1.2million in Welsh tidal stream energy innovation

A major tidal energy demonstration project, located off the coast of Anglesey in Wales, is set to benefit from over one million pounds of investment by The Crown Estate.

The Morlais tidal stream demonstration zone, being developed by Menter Môn, covers an area of 35km2 in the Irish Sea, and aims to attract developers and investors to Anglesey, to develop early-scale tidal energy projects. Together, these projects could deliver up to 240MW of new clean power and help lay the foundations for the growth of the tidal energy sector in the UK.

The Crown Estate’s £1.2 million investment will support the project to deliver its environmental monitoring and mitigation package (EMMP) – an essential step in safeguarding the marine environment and enabling the project to progress. The work will monitor for interactions with sensitive species, as well as testing ongoing monitoring technologies.

The work will be applicable to any tidal stream device deployed at the site and represents an important step in addressing significant evidence gaps and consenting challenges faced by the currently data poor tidal sector.

An Advisory Group is being established to oversee the development and delivery of the work, with a membership that includes representatives from the Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, JNCC, environmental NGOs, the Isle of Anglesey County Council, and tidal stream developers. Anticipated EMMP delivery partners include Bangor University, Swansea University and SMRU Consulting, strengthening links between the research, energy and innovation sectors.

The project has also been awarded £31m European Regional Development Funds via Welsh Government from the current 2014-2020 EU Structural Funds programme, part of a significant investment of £105m EU funds to support Marine Energy research and development in Wales.

Nicola Clay, Head of New Ventures in The Crown Estate’s Marine team, commented:

“We welcome this latest investment in this important project, which has huge potential to help unlock new forms of clean power for Wales, paving the way for innovative energy technologies, greater resilience of supply, and new jobs, skills and inward investment.

“Our own funding commitment at Morlais is one example of how we’re working in partnership with the UK and Welsh governments to support their commitment to renewable energy growth and the transition to next zero.

“Through this latest investment, we will help provide a comprehensive package of essential data to support the development of this important project, safeguard marine biodiversity and make valuable insights available to benefit many other marine industries.”

Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director for Menter Môn:

“We’re really excited to be leading this innovative work to shed more light on the way that marine energy technology has the potential to interact with the marine environment. “We have a great team, with some of the world’s leading researchers coming to deliver this comprehensive environmental research in North Wales with the ambition of answering some of the questions that are facing the sector. The results are expected to enable marine energy deployments at Morlais and also to provide much needed data to enable projects in Wales, the UK and beyond.”

The Morlais project was awarded consent for development from the Welsh Government in December 2021. Natural Resources Wales have granted a marine licence that will allow tidal turbines to be installed in phases. Construction and operation of the project will take place in phases to allow for environmental monitoring of wildlife and habitats.

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