North West Wales

£70m tidal power scheme off Anglesey wins approval

MCT tidal generator in Strangford Lough, County Down
Image caption One of the tidal generators is already in operation in Strangford Lough, County Down

Wales' first commercial tidal energy farm planned off the coast of Anglesey has won Welsh government approval.

The £70m Skerries Tidal Stream Array is also being backed by £10m in UK government funding.

The project will see five tidal generators located in up to 130ft (40m) of water about half a mile from Holyhead.

Developers Siemens say the scheme will generate enough power for 10,000 homes.

The electricity generators operate like wind turbines but with blades driven by tidal wave action.

Plans for the energy scheme were first put forward four years ago by Marine Current Turbines (MCT) and the power company RWE nPower.

German-owned Siemens bought out MCT last year and have continued pursuing the project.

The five 2MW tidal generators will be sited near a group of rocks known as the Skerries and Carmel Head.

Wales 'first'

The announcement that the project has won a marine licence from the Welsh government came at a conference in London on Wednesday.

It followed environmental studies and public consultation on the island.

"I am delighted to announce that the Welsh government has granted a Marine Licence for the Skerries Tidal Stream Array project, which moves Wales a step closer to hosting the first scheme of this kind in the UK," said First Minister Carwyn Jones.

"This demonstrates the significant benefits of choosing Wales for marine energy investment, with our unique tidal resources, good port facilities and proximity to the grid."

"We have supported and worked closely with the company from the minute they showed their initial interest in the development of the site, including financial support towards early feasibility studies.

"The next step is to develop the industry so that tidal power can contribute towards our future energy mix."

After winning support of the Welsh government, the project can now access £10m in funding from UK coffers.

Department of Energy and Climate Change minister Greg Barker said: "These projects will provide valuable insight into how best to harness the power of the sea and take us one vital step closer to realising the full potential of marine in our future energy mix.

"The UK, with its amazing natural resource and outstanding technical know-how is already leading the way on marine power for the rest of the world to follow, and I want to ensure we stay top of this table."

Celebrating the announcement, the chief executive of Siemens Energy Hydro and Ocean Unit, Achim Woerner, said: "We welcome the Welsh government's decision to grant approval for the Skerries scheme, the largest of its kind in the UK to date.

"The consent is an important milestone in Wales' transition to a low carbon economy and the tidal farm will provide a very positive economic boost to Anglesey and north Wales."

The company said it hoped to have the scheme up and running in commercial operation in 2015.

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