AN off-shore area in Pembrokeshire for marine energy developers to test their devices is now open for business.
Led by Marine Energy Wales, the first phase of META (Marine Energy Test Area) has been launched in Pembroke Dock.
With eight pre-consented sites located in and around the Milford Haven Waterway, the META project aims to help developers deploy, de-risk and develop their marine energy technologies.
Phase one consists of five sites which are directly adjacent to Pembroke Port infrastructure, offering easy access for testing marine energy equipment in low risk areas. This early stage testing will provide a springboard for advancing devices to commercial operation.
The £1.9 million project is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, alongside the Coastal Communities Fund.
It also forms part of an overall Pembroke Dock Marine project due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal.
Joseph Kidd, Operations and Development Manager for META, said: “We’re 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, so we can’t wait to start welcoming our first customers and getting kit into the water.”
META will complement the existing test centre network 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 that will develop a world class centre for the development of marine energy in Pembrokeshire. The project, which is due to be part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal, also includes a Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone and infrastructure upgrades at Pembroke Port.
Charlotte Wood, Business Development Manager at Mainstay Marine Solutions in Pembroke Dock, has welcomed the opening of META phase one.
Originally a boat building business, Mainstay Marine Solutions diversified into the marine renewable sector about four years ago with the construction of a tidal energy device for Tidal Energy Ltd.
As well as the conversion of the World War Two water carrier barge into a marine energy generating vessel for a company called Wave-Tricity, their other work includes the fabrication and assembly of a wave energy device for Australia-based AMOG Consulting.
Charlotte said: “META is very important for us because it will further develop a marine energy hub in Pembroke Dock that will help de-risk projects for developers coming into the region by allowing them to dip test their marine energy devices. Until we get devices ‘wet’, we don’t know what problems will arise, so META is a great opportunity to do this.
“Much of our world’s surface is made up of water, so it makes perfect sense to use our seas because they offer an energy resource that’s clean and predictable.
“Pembroke Dock is a perfect location to deliver marine energy projects because of our coastal expertise and the availability of local supply chain businesses which will also help create jobs and tackle deprivation.
“South West Wales is already a pioneer in the marine energy sector, with facilities like META phase one giving the opportunity to further grow a worldwide reputation for marine energy innovation and excellence.”