Tidal energy leader Nova Innovation has teamed up with regional renewable energy organisation YnNi Llŷn to develop a tidal energy project at Bardsey Sound (Ynys Enlli) off the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales.

The Crown Estate has awarded Nova Innovation an Agreement for Lease (AfL) for the project which enables them to start fully exploring the project’s potential through site surveys and studies to inform the technical feasibility. A full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will also be carried out as part of the consenting process. YnNi Llŷn will support Nova through the development of the project, and in parallel will be exploring opportunities for local use of the electricity generated.

The AfL is the first stage in the process that will allow development activity and consenting to formally start on the project. The full Lease will be awarded only once all of the required consents have been secured. Prior to the AfL being granted, The Crown Estate consulted with key stakeholders as part of their leasing process, and the statutory consenting process that will now start will involve an extensive period of consultation with both local and national stakeholders.

Nova and YnNi Llŷn have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which includes YnNi Llŷn supporting Nova with the development of the tidal project, and Nova supporting YnNi Llŷn with the development of infrastructure that will enable local use of energy.

A number of public exhibitions and workshops will take place where key stakeholders and interested parties can provide feedback on the plans. Nova Innovation and YnNi Llŷn will be keeping the local community fully updated on the progress of the project, and will ensure that there is ample opportunity for input.

Joseph Kidd, Commercial Manager, Nova Innovation, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Nova and for Wales to show that tidal energy has a role to play in the UK’s energy mix and can help regenerate coastal communities. The project will provide significant opportunities for the local supply chain and help support the economic development of the local area. Nova and YnNi Llŷn will be working together to make sure the local community is properly engaged, and that opportunities for maximising community benefit are fully explored.”

Brian Thomas, on behalf of YnNi Llŷn, said “We welcome this exciting opportunity to engage in a leading-edge development of this nature and to build on Nova Innovation’s existing track record in the field. We also look forward to working closely with other industry experts within our Welsh universities, and with other key stakeholders in order to maximise the benefits of this project to the local area and its economy and most importantly its people.”

David Jones, Project Director of Marine Energy Wales, said: “Marine energy has created over 100 direct jobs across Wales in the last two years, supporting supply chain resilience, clustering and our peripheral economies. With significant natural resources alongside funding and Government support, Wales is beginning to play a leading role in a growing low carbon sector, which fits perfectly into the UK’s Industrial Strategy. We welcome this announcement as a positive step forward for the industry.”

Having already established a presence in Wales at the Marine Energy Hub in Pembroke Dock, and taken on experienced marine energy specialist Joseph Kidd to lead on Nova’s developments in Wales, Nova Innovation is now focussed on establishing an operational presence in north Wales and will be looking to build a team to develop the project. The company is keen to explore ways in which local businesses can be involved in the project, using the expertise and experience in the local area to provide services to support the development. Any opportunities will be widely advertised as they come up, and highlighted to stakeholders as part of the ongoing engagement; this is in keeping with Nova’s strong commitment to local supply chain sourcing.

It is anticipated that the assessment of the feasibility and viability of the project, as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will take approximately one year to complete. Once all of the assessments are completed, a marine licence application will be submitted to the regulator, Marine Resources Wales. It typically takes a further year for the regulator to assess the application and make a decision. During this period, the public will have the opportunity to formally comment on the proposals.

The Enlli project further underpins Nova Innovation’s position as a market leader in tidal energy technology. Since its inception in 2010, Nova has been at the forefront of tidal energy technology development. In 2016 Nova Innovation was the first company in the world to deploy a fully operational grid-connected offshore tidal array at their site in Shetland.