The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters will today confirm their place on the global marine energy map with the launch of the area as a Marine Energy Park.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker will welcome the launch of the marine park during a visit to Thurso, where he is set to address key players from across the marine renewable energy industry.
The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park will incorporate the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) which attracts developers from across the world and where testing of a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices is already under way.
The purpose of the park is to heighten the international profile of the region and its reputation as a world leader in marine energy. The park will build on collaborative partnerships in the region between government on the main land and the Orkney Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), plus a cluster of local expertise and renewable resource in the area, to help speed up progress of marine power development.
Energy from waves or tides has the potential to generate 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from eight coal fired power stations. A move to marine power can also help cut emissions and tackle climate change.
Chairman of the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) Sir Anthony Cleaver says: "This announcement is a very welcome boost to the profile of the north as a world-class centre for the testing and deployment of marine renewables.
“Since our first meetings with the Minister on this subject back in 2011 we have promoted the concept of Scotland's first Marine Energy Park being in this area. Attendees at today's launch event in the state-of-the-art Engineering, Technology & Energy Centre will have been left in no doubt that this area is well placed to become the key centre for deployment, operation and maintenance of marine energy devices. The Marine Energy Park will undoubtedly help to promote our ideal location, together with our excellent infrastructure and highly-skilled labour force."
Up to 1.6 GW (600 MW from wave and 1000MW from tidal stream) proposed by the developers involved in this leasing round, could, if developed to full capacity, meet the electricity needs of up to three quarters of a million homes.