The Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) is a Scottish Government fund administered by the Carbon Trust. Its goal is to help commercialise the marine energy industry in Scotland.
£18m in funding is available to provide capital support for projects that will accelerate the deployment of commercial-scale wave and tidal stream energy arrays in Scottish waters. The MRCF funding will be distributed before the end of the comprehensive spending review period in March 2015.
An application round was undertaken in 2012 to provide array commercialisation support for devices that have already been demonstrated at full-scale prototype stage. At the same time, similar UK and European funding schemes have made awards to three tidal array projects in Scotland. Whilst these tidal array projects are moving into first array commercialisation, it has become clear that wave array projects are not likely to be delivered within the MRCF time and spending constraints.
A targeted programme of Government support is needed for wave technologies to allow them to get to a position to successfully deploy first arrays. This can be best achieved by further technology proving and demonstrating cost reduction potential, all of which would be enhanced with support from industrial partners and OEMs who bring a depth and breadth of skills to bear as well as the financial strength needed by customers. With this in mind the Carbon Trust has allocated some MRCF funds towards a Wave First Array Support Programme.
The primary intention of the Wave First Array Support programme is to support projects that will significantly progress wave energy technology towards commercial readiness so that first wave demonstration arrays can be delivered in the 2016 to 2018 time period.
In order to address the specific challenges for wave technologies, and make the sector more attractive for industrial partners and utility customers, MRCF funds are being allocated towards a Wave First Array Support programme. As part of this, targeted programmes of Device Development and Proving and Site Development Fast Track have been devised with four key objectives:
The MRCF Wave First Array Support programme will be providing a bespoke package of up to £13 million of support for Device Development and Proving and Site Development Fast Track to:
This support will accelerate the development and proving of the core device technology alongside the site development work necessary to progress towards first wave demonstration arrays in Scottish waters.
The MRCF scheme is governed by State Aid regulations as described in the attached State Aid Notice (PDF), as approved by the European Commission, scheme number SA.39564.
There are a number of critical array supporting technologies and other innovations which are required to enable first and early arrays and/or significantly reduce the risk or cost compared with existing solutions. The Array Technology Innovation Programme is seeking projects to support which will deliver new and better solutions to enable arrays and reduce the costs and risks.
The programme will support enabling technology innovations targeted at early arrays and which are also expected to be applicable in the longer term to commercial arrays:
There are a number of areas of enabling technology innovation in which applications are strongly encouraged. These are outlined in the attached guidance. Solutions should be widely applicable across a broad range of sites and technology types (wave and/or tidal). It is expected that most applications to this programme will be for R&D type activity. This programme is to be closely aligned with the Marine Farm Accelerator, an initiative led by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the Carbon Trust.
The MRCF Array Technology Innovation Programme call is now closed and five projects have been awarded support. The successful projects were announced by Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing on 26th February 2014. The awardees will share a combined £2.8m provided by the Scottish Government to design, build and prove novel technologies that will help to reduce the cost of early array deployments for both wave and tidal technologies.
The Carbon Trust are pleased to have managed the assessment process to select these innovative projects and will manage the delivery of the 5 projects during 2014 and into 2015 on behalf of the Scottish Government. The projects are as follows:
Testing, Qualification and Commercialisation of Advanced Mooring System for Wave & Tidal Arrays
Specialist engineering consultancy Tension Technology International will be engaging with a strong group of experts; Bluewater Services, University of Exeter, Bridon International, the Orion Energy Centre, Vryhof Engineering, TenCate Geosynthetics, Pelamis Wave Power and DNV GL. This project will develop, demonstrate and qualify a novel low cost anchor bag and mooring line system including testing at EMEC. The new system will have applications on a wide range of floating marine energy device types and will produce a significant reduction to this area of project cost.
Installation of a drilled rock anchor mooring to support a floating tidal energy turbine
Engineering firm McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd along with renewable consultancy Searoc Group Ltd will work to design, build and demonstrate a remotely operated, self-levelling seabed drill. This drill will be used to provide a rock anchor mooring system for use by technology developer Nautricity Ltd’s floating tidal energy converter off the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland.
Turbulence in Marine Environments
Marine data acquisition experts Partrac Ltd are supported by Ocean Array Systems Ltd, providing turbulence and hydrodynamic analyses, ABPmer, undertaking resource characterisation, and IT Power Ltd contributing their knowledge of engineering design and device performance. They will undertake a research project to measure and evaluate turbulent effects within tidal arrays and produce guidance documents for industry to disseminate the findings to address unresolved issues in respect of turbulence.
Integrated Marine Energy Measurement Platform
World leading test site EMEC are to design and prove a highly sophisticated seabed monitoring unit that will take a series of useful measurements including active sonar, acoustic (doppler profiles), temperature, conductivity and more. This will create an integrated all-in-one solution for many data collection and management requirements in first arrays.
CableFish – Cable Installation Tool for Tidal Environments
Marine energy consultancy Green Theme are collaborating with Leask Marine and Engineering Technology Applications (ETA) in the creation of a new cable mounted monitoring system. This system (called the CableFish) will assist in the deployment of intra array cables for early marine energy farms by providing live camera and GPS data to installers.
The Carbon Trust has been working in marine energy technology innovation since 2003. Most recently we have supported full scale device prototypes installed in UK waters through the Marine Renewables Proving Fund. Our report Accelerating Marine Energy, published in July 2011, includes analysis of the UK wave and tidal stream resource, and identifies pathways towards continued cost reduction in the industry.
Read more on our latest reports on marine energy.