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First UK marine energy park to be established in South West of England

The UK's first officially designated 'marine energy park' for the development of wave and tide-powered renewable energy will be established in the South West of England, the Government has announced.25 Jan 2012

The South West Marine Energy Park, which will stretch from Bristol through Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly, will speed up the progress of marine power development by combining the resources of national and local government; Local Enterprise Partnerships; universities, and industry, the Government said.

The park was commissioned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, with work carried out by renewable energy organisation Regen SW.

An investment of £100 million has been made in marine energy in the region in the past seven years. The south west is already home to the Cornwall Wave Hub, which was taken over by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) at the start of this year, as well as the 'nursery' testing site at Falmouth and research facilities at Plymouth and Exeter Universities and in Bristol.

Announcing the new initiative on a visit to Bristol, Energy Minister Greg Barker said that it would enable the region to "build on its existing unique mix of renewable energy resource and home-growth academic, technical and industrial expertise".

"Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15 billion to the economy to 2050. The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power, so we should capitalise on this leadership to make marine power a real contender in the future energy market," he said.

The Government estimates that energy from the waves or tides could generate up to 27GW of power by 2050 - equivalent to the power generated by eight coal-fired power stations.

Local politicians including Vivien Pengelly, leader of Plymouth City Council, said that the park was a major opportunity to generate investment and jobs in the area.

"Plymouth has world-class research and development expertise in this field along with a strong marine business base and advanced manufacturing sector and looks forward to working closely with its private and public sector partners to make the South West Marine Energy Park a success," she said.

Similar initiatives are being developed in other areas, including the Pentland Firth and Orkney. Last week the Scottish Government announced that it would be creating a Renewable Energy Enterprise Area in the north of Scotland as one of four industry-specific locations. The enterprise area will offer incentives to businesses investing in low carbon and renewables in Hatson and Lyness in Orkney as well as Arnish in the Western Isles and Nigg and Scrabster in the Highlands.

The Government recently issued a consultation aimed at doubling the financial incentives available for renewable energy generated through wave and tidal stream technologies from 2013 onwards under changes to the Renewables Obligation.

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