East Anglia: ‘Seize tidal and wind energy opportunities’, MP urges region’s firms

EAST ANGLIA can become a “world leader” by seizing on the Government’s desire to back tidal and wind energy, an MP has claimed.

Ministers are encouraging firms to pitch their ideas of how to generate electricity from the power of waves and tides, with up to two projects sharing �20million.

MP Brandon Lewis has backed the region’s developing renewable energy industry to research and produce the technology required.

The Great Yarmouth Conservative MP said tidal and wave power was a “huge opportunity” for the region, adding that the east of England could also meet the Government’s demand to expand the UK’s energy sources.

He said: “It’s about energy security and the Government is not just relying on one thing but looking at the expansion of nuclear, more from oil and gas, off-shore wind farms.

“For the eastern region it’s a huge opportunity. We can be world leaders and our businesses and people locally can build on that with jobs in that industry, even just researching it. Everybody thinks East Anglia is a sleepy, agricultural region.

“But if we look at the high-technology businesses in Norwich, software in Ipswich, medicine in Cambridge and energy in Great Yarmouth we are a forward-thinking, high-technology area and we need to remind the rest of the world what we are doing.”

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The Government’s �20m project is aiming to support pre-commercial projects which demonstrate how wave and/or tidal devices operate in “array formation” – rows or columns – over a period of time.

It is hoped marine power could provide up to 20% of the UK’s current electricity demand, create thousands of jobs and help cut carbon emissions. But the industry is still in its infancy.

The Crown Estate has identified areas off the UK coast for the technology to be used, including numerous sites near Scotland.

Bidding for Government money closes on June 1, with the winners to be announced later in the year.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said the cash will help move marine power to the next stage of development.

Marc Paish, chief technology officer at Sheffield-based Pulse Tidal, added: “I think there’s an interesting area of current around the Norfolk coast where in the longer term you can imagine an array being feasible but I think it will take quite a while before developers take an interest.”