The government has announced that it is to support a range of major collaborative research and development projects, worth in excess of £13m, that will help to show how wave and tidal energy can be generated at scale, and with lower energy production costs.

The UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board and Scottish Enterprise, in collaboration with the Scottish government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, are to invest over £6.5m in seven new projects that will support the applied research, experimental development and demonstration of innovative technologies that solve common issues faced by those developing and deploying the first marine energy arrays, a critical step in the development of the industry.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said, “These projects will help UK businesses to exploit innovative new technologies in a growing market. The marine energy industry is at a critical stage and needs to demonstrate that energy from wave and tidal power can be generated, successfully, at scale and at a reduced cost.

“The cross industry collaboration being shown in these projects is vital to help solve key technical challenges in deploying first marine energy arrays.”

Adrian Gillespie, director of Energy and Low Carbon Technologies at Scottish Enterprise, added, “The Marine Energy – Supporting Array Technologies (MESAT) programme was developed in partnership with an industry group comprising key members of the marine energy community.

“These collaborative projects address technological challenges that are crucial to advancing our position as the world leader in developing marine energy and support the move forward to the deployment of arrays in the waters off the north and western coasts of Scotland over the next few years. In doing so, the MESAT projects will build on the device development and testing work being undertaken at the world leading European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.”

The companies leading the research and development are CC Hydrosonics (Harlow), IT Power (Bristol), Mojo Maritime (Falmouth), SSE Renewables (Perth), Tension Technology International (Eastbourne), Tidal Generation (Bristol) and TidalStream (Southam).

One of the projects will see SSE Renewables partner with ScottishPower Renewables and four leading tidal turbine developers to develop electrical connection architectures for large scale tidal power arrays. The aim is to develop an architecture which is compatible with a range of tidal stream turbines, with the intent of deploying the architecture in the first commercial scale tidal power arrays currently being developed by the two utility companies.

The collaborative project led by Mojo Maritime will develop a patented vessel and operating concept designed to handle the aggressive marine conditions typical of tidal energy sites. The aim is to reduce the cost of installation and through life maintenance of tidal arrays to a level comparable to the installed cost of offshore wind.

And CC Hydrosonics will develop, with their partners, a system that uses ultrasonic waves to prevent bio-fouling of submerged generators, cost effectively and without harm to marine life. Fouling causes severe structural loading on the submerged components of marine electricity generators, lowers the efficiency of generation and can disable a generator through the clogging-up of moving components.