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Wednesday March 6th, 2024 

Morlais leads collaboration to a more sustainable future

by Andy Billcliff CEO Menter Môn Morlais Ltd

It’s a busy month for the marine and renewable energy sector. As well as the Marine Energy Wales (MEW) annual conference, March has also seen the launch of UK Government’s Allocation Round 6 for the Contracts for Difference (CfD) as part of the budget.

For those of us in renewables it’s a crucial date. CfD is the government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation. In our case it provides developers of tidal energy converters with a guaranteed price for the electricity they would generate at Morlais.

The result of this round, to be announced September at the latest, will be highly anticipated. It will mean the difference for many developments between growth, even viability and uncertainty. For us a positive outcome would send a clear message of confidence to our stakeholders – from developers of tidal technology already signed-up to Morlais, to future potential investors and partners.

As with any project like this, we’re on a journey, and each allocation round is a small step on that journey. Rounds four and five have already delivered a total of 28MW for our developers, giving them certainty around their involvement. But with our consented maximum generating capacity of 240 MW, we know there’s a long way to go and we’re not complacent.

A successful outcome and implementation of AR6 depends on our collective efforts to support and facilitate the development of what is still a relatively new industry. At Morlais we’re determined to be a lead player in this emerging sector so that we can achieve what we set out to do – deliver local benefit and add value throughout the supply chain, our communities and the environment.

We are under no illusions as to what’s at stake with AR6, and we still need to get devices in the water to generate electricity in order to secure that added value. As a company Menter Môn Morlais Ltd owns the Morlais infrastructure, including the recently completed landfall substation. We also hold the Marine Licence. This means we are legally responsible for the project, but by no means are we working alone.  Collaboration has been our approach from the beginning.

We have and continue to work closely with our funders and local partners, as well as government at all levels, the Crown Estate and wider stakeholders in a team Wales approach. A recent move to facilitate partnership working is the setting up of the Morlais Coalition, a group which includes our developers, Welsh Government, MEW, Business Wales, Offshore Energy Alliance and Catapult Offshore Renewable Energy. Its aim is to support tidal developers to collaborate in priority areas to reduce costs and risks as well as keep all partners updated on all matters tidal energy. This includes AR6 of course.

Long term success for us in gaining additional megawatts is ensuring we can be at the heart of a strong tidal stream energy industry based in Wales, employing local people, growing a strong local supply chain and local research expertise. The Morlais Coalition is part of this as is the Marine Characterisation Research Project, more affectionately known as MCRP. Part of the Menter Môn portfolio of projects, MCRP is designed to support the development of the renewable energy sector. It is a crucial link to ensure that Morlais, as well as similar schemes globally can be developed in a way which safeguards habitats and wildlife.

Like Morlais, MCRP has received funding from WEFO, NRS/NDA and the Crown Estate. The team works with world leading experts and researchers from academia and industry, using groundbreaking technology to monitor and compile databases to support the deployment of tidal energy devices and wider marine energy sector. All the data gathered will not only be made available to Morlais, but also to similar developments across the world.

With challenges facing our climate and worldwide economies, along with more recent uncertainty around energy security, schemes like Morlais become more important. And working together becomes more important too. We have long said that Morlais is a local project with global relevance, this rings truer than ever and the need for collaboration has never been more vital, emphasising the collective responsibility we share in shaping a more sustainable future.



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