New marine power sites leased out by Crown Estate

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Pelamis wave power device. Pic: Pelamis
Image caption,
Pelamis plans to install 14 devices off Bernera on the Western Isles

Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power has secured a lease from the Crown Estate to develop a wave farm off the island of Bernera on the Western Isles.

The firm said the project would generate enough electricity for about 7,000 homes.

The site off Bernera is one of eight areas of seabed the Crown Estate has leased out for wave and tidal projects.

Sites in the Mull of Kintyre, the Moray Firth, Shetland and west of Islay are among the others.

A tidal project was also announced for Skerries in Wales and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

This now takes the total number of UK projects to more than 30.

The new sites are from the second application window for projects in connection with the Scottish government's Saltire Prize.

They range from small technology test schemes for short-term installation to commercial projects with up to 30MW potential generating capacity.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "These new projects around the north and west of Scotland bring the total number of planned developments in Scotland to 25, including 1.6GW in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters strategic area.

"Today's announcement further reinforces the growing momentum and appetite for investment in marine renewables and demonstrates the breadth of activity taking place around Scotland's coast."

Rob Hastings, director of the marine estate for the Crown Estate, said: "Our announcement is a further indication of how UK companies are taking strides forwards towards commercial deployment of wave and tidal energy, particularly in Scotland.

"In the last six months we have continued to see strong interest in wave and tidal leases."

RSPB Scotland has given a cautious welcome to the announcements.

The charity said the schemes could make a valuable contribution towards meeting Scotland's renewable energy targets.

In a statement, it said: "However, the roll out of new of new technologies such as these must be accompanied by the urgent identification of important marine areas for wildlife in order that these sites can be adequately protected from adverse impacts.

"This must be informed by robust scientific research."

At the Bernera site, the installation of 14 wave power devices, being tested on Orkney, could start in 2015.

Western Isles Council - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - said the Outer Hebrides was the "jewel in the crown" of Scotland's marine energy resource.

The local authority's leader, Angus Campbell, said: "As a community we are committed to encouraging the development of wave power in this area."

Ros Hart, project development manager for Pelamis, added: "The Western Isles will be home to many of the world's first wave farms and this lease is yet another step towards commercialising wave energy in Scotland.

"If the trajectory of our business and its technology continues, this will be the Western Isles' first ever grid-connected wave farm."

In July it emerged that plans for what was described as one of the world's largest wave energy schemes were in doubt, due to financial problems at one of the firms involved.

The Siadar project, off the west coast of Lewis, was a joint venture between RWE Npower Renewables and Inverness-based Wavegen.

But RWE said it was no longer proceeding with the development.

It was hoped the scheme would generate 4MW of electricity by 2012 - enough to power 2,500 local homes.

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