The government has just released plans which show that the south-west of the UK is going to have the opportunity to develop a world-class green energy facility.
The government has announced that this part of the country is going to become what is known as a ‘marine energy park.’ This is a location which is going to utilise both tidal, wave and offshore wind power to provide greener electricity to the country.
The site is going to cost £100 million and is going to be spread across Bristol, Cornwall and Devon. It is expected that as well as providing greener energy the area is going to experience a tenfold growth in the number of jobs available.
Greg Barker is the energy minister and he has stated that the new development is going to provide enough power to bring electricity to thousands of homes in the UK. It is not just energy that is going to be focused on in the south-west however, and Mr Barker sees the area as being turned into a sort of Silicon Valley for marine devices.
Mr Barker has commented, “We want to make sure the south-west of the country gets the recognition that it deserves. It is not just a leader nationally for developing marine devices, but it is a leader internationally”.
A summit is going to take place in Bristol shortly where it is expected that Mr Barker will announce detailed plans for the energy park. He is also going to detail how the park is going to work with local universities, entrepreneurs, and the council.
Tidal and wave power is a small industry right now but the government hopes that this development will allow for its fast growth. It is expected that a combination of state funding, academia, and energy schemes will boost the development in the industry.
Recent estimates show that there are about 350 companies focused on marine research in the south-west. It is currently estimated that around 500 people work in the sector right now. The government predict that if plans go ahead, this figure will increase tenfold by 2017.
A prospectus has recently been published by Mr Barker and it has been created by Regen SW. The prospectus was commissioned by Plymouth City Council and Cornwall Council. These councils commissioned the document because the Department of Energy demanded that they develop a growth plan. Mr Barker continued, “If we bring similar businesses together in one region then it is expected that innovation will thrive.”
The Minister has stated that he was inspired by the chairman of Google and that he wants to see the south-west become a destination for investment. If everything goes to plan, much international investment will come to the region and this could lead to it being worth around £70 billion for the UK’s economy in the next four decades.
Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive has commented in the past that the reason why there are so many successful companies in Silicon Valley is because so many similar companies clustered together.
Over the last 10 years, a large amount of money has already been invested into the region. One of the major projects taking place is the Wave Hub which is working on developing more efficient wave power. In the near future it is expected that much more investment is going to take place.