MMO approves application for grid-connected tidal energy development off the Isle of Wight

A state-of-the-art tidal energy generation project to be constructed off the Isle of Wight coast has been given approval.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has given the go-ahead to the offshore elements of the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC).

With the onshore part given local planning consent in September 2015, the project at 30MW is now the largest consented tidal stream energy project in England and Wales. It has also secured its future connection to the UK’s electricity grid.

PTEC is now set to become a world leader in large-scale tidal power production, using the motion of the changing tides to generate clean and reliable electricity for the UK.

PTEC will commercially operate a range of different world-leading turbine technologies in a five square kilometre area off St Catherine’s Point, the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight. The project will bring international companies to the UK and accelerate the country’s adoption and understanding of tidal energy.

A number of tidal turbine manufacturers have already expressed interest in partnering with PTEC to install their turbines. Once operational, PTEC will generate sufficient clean electricity to power more than 15,000 homes.

Project Director Mark Francis said: ‘We are delighted with the decision. PTEC will be pivotal to the future growth and success of the UK’s tidal energy industry.

‘We started work on the PTEC project back in 2010 and secured the seabed Agreement for Lease in November 2012. Following a rigorous development and consenting phase, we have created a project that will deliver reliable power to the UK’s grid and has attracted world leading turbine manufacturers to partner with us in its implementation.

“We now look forward to working with the MMO, local planning authority and all relevant stakeholders in completing the final development phase before we begin construction.’

PTEC is operated as a joint venture between private company, Perpetuus Energy Ltd, and the Isle of Wight Council. It is hoped that the construction of the project will start in 2017, with potential to be generating electricity from late 2018.

Risks to navigation

The application was originally made in late 2014. Since then the MMO has been working with interested parties to address comments and concerns regarding the project.

This has included resolving issues such as possible risks to navigation, including recreational boating activities, following consultation with organisations including the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Trinity House and Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The developer has committed to continue working closely with all relevant stakeholders, including the local community, those in the fishing industry and local sailing clubs throughout the next stage of the project prior to construction.

Visual impact

The MMO also considered concerns about the visual impact of the development. In order to address concerns from members of the public and mitigate the impacts the applicant has reduced the proposed height of the surface piercing superstructures for TECs from 18 metres to 9 metres above lowest astronomical tide.

As a demonstration facility it should also be noted that various tidal devices and array configurations have the potential to be deployed at PTEC over its 25 year life.

Other conditions have been included within the licence document to manage potential risks to the marine environment.

Find out more

The application is available on the MMO’s public register (ref MLA/2014/00563).

In addition to consent from the MMO separate permission from other organisations was also required. Onshore aspects of the development were approved in June 2015 by the Isle of Wight Council as the relevant local planning authority.

More information about the project is available on the developers’ website and also the Isle of Wight Council website.