As political signals go, the ones beamed from stage at the Marine Energy Wales conference in Llandudno this month, could not have been much clearer: The Welsh Government supports you, and we want you here in Wales.
Not one, but two major keynote speakers addressed the assembled audience at Venue Cymru over the two-day event. Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, went first, proudly proclaiming the Welsh Government had secured a record £31 million EU grant for Morlais, a major tidal stream project off Anglesey.
Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, followed, underlining the key motivations driving his support for marine renewable energy. He cited the experiences of Brexit, Covid, COP-26 and the horrors in Ukraine, as evidence of a ‘critical’ moment in history which required ‘collective effort’ to face the challenges ahead.
He said, “The Welsh Government’s conclusion around energy security is that it is best achieved through focusing on renewable energy. Marine Renewable Energy must play a key part for the resilient and diverse energy sources we need.”
Mr Drakeford pointed to the tangible commitment of alliances, projects and partnerships already underway in Wales, and stressed the continued investment and confidence of the Welsh Government. Sharp-eyed observers may have noted the faintest flicker of eyebrows raised at this point. Hard not to be quietly impressed when a nation’s leader heralds your sector with such unwavering support.
The net zero challenge may be enormous, but it is also ripe with opportunity. To ensure we take advantage of the innovation, skills and economic potential on offer to future generations, Marine Energy Wales is working tirelessly to seize this watershed moment. Through our relationships with Welsh Government and UK Government we continue to champion 5 key asks for the Marine Renewable Sector:
- Ongoing revenue support and replacement grant funding
- Accelerated consenting decisions
- Recognising the tidal lagoon opportunity for Wales
- Improving port infrastructure and grid connectivity
- Building supply chain and workforce capacity and readiness.