Marine Energy Wales has announced that phase 1 of its Marine Energy Test Area (META) project is officially open for business.
The announcement was made during a launch event held at Pembroke Port and marks a significant step in the development of the project.
With eight pre-consented sites located in and around the Milford Haven Waterway, META aims to help developers deploy, de-risk and develop their marine energy technologies.
The £1.9 million project is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, alongside the Coastal Communities Fund.
Phase 1 consists of five sites which are directly adjacent to Pembroke Port infrastructure and offers access for testing marine energy equipment in low risk areas. This early stage testing should provide a springboard for advancing devices to commercial operation.
Joseph Kidd, operations and development manager for META, said: “This announcement comes as a culmination of two years of hard work and we are delighted to officially say that we are open for business. The purpose of META is to reduce the time, cost and risks faced by marine energy developers to accelerate development in the sector, and this growth has never been more critical.
“We are facing a climate emergency and marine energy will play a significant role in reaching our 2050 net-zero emission targets. Public support for the sector is also at an all-time high and so we cannot wait to start welcoming our first customers and getting kit into the water.”
Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, said:
“Generating sustainable marine energy is an essential step towards creating a low carbon economy. The Welsh coast offers unique natural wave, tide and floating wind energy sources, which will be maximised by the Marine Energy Test Area. META will be a focussed, dedicated facility for effective research in this under-developed but vital industry, developing creative solutions to tackle global energy efficiency challenges.
“This project puts Wales at the forefront of global research into renewable energy, and tackling the challenges of climate change. EU funding is continuing to drive progress in R&D, science, infrastructure and skills in Wales, ultimately contributing to a more equal, more prosperous, and greener Wales.”
META will complement the existing test centre network present across the UK and will provide a stepping stone for developers, supporting them on their journey to the two Welsh Demonstration Zones.
As well as offering sites for the testing of marine energy equipment, META will also support research, innovation and monitoring methodology projects, working closely with Welsh universities and the ORE Catapult led Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE).
Both META and MEECE are part of Pembroke Dock Marine; a collaborative project which will develop a world class centre for the development of marine energy in Pembrokeshire. The project is due to be part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal and also includes the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone and infrastructure upgrades at Pembroke Port.
The Swansea Bay City Deal is a £1.3 billion investment in a number of transformational projects across South West Wales, funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. The City Deal is being led by Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, in partnership with Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Swansea Bay University Health Board.