Article about Morlais included in the Marine Energy Wales’ recent state of the sector report.
Morlais is the tidal stream energy project located in the West Anglesey Demonstration Zone, off the north west coast of Holy Island. The project is run by social enterprise, Menter Môn, which secured the 45-year Crown Estate lease for the zone in 2014.
Since then, the project team has been working towards securing consent. An application under the Transport and Works Act was submitted to Welsh Government in the summer of 2019, along with the marine license application to Natural Resources Wales. A public inquiry held on-line as part of the planning process ended mid-March, with a decision expected by Welsh Ministers later this year.
The project is phased and will gradually scale up over time to a generating capacity of 240MW – monitoring and mitigating any potential effects as it is developed. It has featured in the North Wales Growth Deal and subject to a business case, Morlais could receive £9m which will be a match to unlock a further £26m from the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO).
What’s so special about Morlais?
But why is this project on Anglesey different to other tidal schemes?
Ask the team and anyone who is familiar with the project and they will tell you there are many things that make this project stand out from the crowd.
Most significantly perhaps, is that fact that Morlais is home grown. It is owned and run locally by Anglesey-based Menter Môn. It is the only project on this scale to be run by a third sector organisation.
Menter Môn has been running green projects on the island since 1996. So, there’s history here. And Menter Môn is driven today, as it was 25 years ago, by its vision to create opportunities for local communities by making the most of resources available on its door step.
This is exactly what Morlais is – borne from the vision of one of its directors in 2014 to see renewable electricity generated off the coast of Anglesey.
Local ownership for Morlais means it’s part of the community in every sense – and its very existence is to ensure benefits and any profit from the scheme come right back into that community. The driver for Morlais has always been to make sure the huge potential of the marine energy sector in terms of jobs, skills, investment and the supply chain are realised locally.
And as ‘a local’, Morlais is in it for the long haul. It will be many years until the scheme will reach the 240 MW capacity in its consenting application due to its adaptive management model. This means its potential to deliver local jobs and investment will continue to grow as the scheme grows.
Along with Morlais, other Menter Môn projects, including its plans for a Hydrogen Hub at Holyhead, create a solid platform for Ynys Môn and wider region to be at the forefront of the renewables sector.
Looking beyond the local, Morlais can also stand its ground on a global platform. Ten international turbine developers have already signed up to be part of project. Attracted by Morlais’ unique ‘plug and play’ model which will provide them with the infrastructure and consent needed to develop their knowledge and understanding on a commercial scale. The Morlais pathway to commercialisation reduces the risk for developers, but promotes innovation in a sector which is yet to realise its full potential in terms of the energy mix.
And through all this of course Morlais as a player in the sector in Wales is poised to help governments in Cardiff and over the border in Westminster to reach their carbon reduction targets. The climate change narrative has been around for a while – but progress has been slow. Morlais along with its developers, similar projects across the UK and beyond, are well-placed to take action and make the real difference that’s needed.
Green recovery is now the focus – with that there is more awareness and an urgency to act. Young people are vocal in their views on climate and inaction form governments. The sector can make a difference and has a responsibility to leave a greener and cleaner legacy for future generations.