The Government is to fund a new innovation centre that will help bridge the gap between development and commercialisation of offshore wind and marine energy technologies.
Business Secretary Vince Cable confirmed yesterday the Government was backing the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) technology and innovation centre
as part of its £200 million commitment to invest in an "elite" network of innovation
centres to support UK high-tech industries develop and commercialise new technology
A spokesperson at the Technology Strategy Board
(TSB), which is overseeing the centres, confirmed today the ORE centre would "likely be open by the summer of next year" and any parties interested in running the centre are now invited to express their interest. A more formal bidding process will follow later this year.
Launching the competition to establish the ORE centre, Cable said: "The UK is a world leader in offshore engineering and our reputation makes us an excellent location for research in this area.
"In creating an Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre we are taking the next step to transforming the UK into a low carbon economy."Global leader
The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind and marine energy and there is potential for both sectors to deliver thousands of jobs and bring billions into the UK economy over the next 40 years.
Offshore wind turbine companies including Vestas, GE, Siemens and Mitsubishi are all lining up to manufacturer in the UK and industry figures estimate between 45,000 and 70,000 jobs could be created by this sector by 2020. Meanwhile, the less developed marine energy market could be worth an estimated £76 billion to the UK economy with the potential to create 68,000 jobs by 2050, according to the Carbon Trust. Massive investment
However, both sectors still require massive investment
in research and development
to bring down the cost and improve the reliability and effectiveness of technologies that are being designed and tested.
"It is vital we invest in renewable
energy now to gain maximum benefits in the future. There is huge potential for growth in the sector, and the prospect to generate billions of pounds for the economy whilst creating thousands of job opportunities at the same time," said University Science Minister David Willetts.Elite network of centres
Prime Minister David Cameron first announced plans for the establishment of at least six "elite" tech centres last October. Two – one in cell therapy and another in high value manufacturing – have already been unveiled. Plastics electronics is another area being considered for funding.
Each centre will receive funding over the next four years and will aim to bring universities and businesses together to make it easier for new companies and innovations
to flourish. As well as carrying out their own in-house research, the centres will provide access to skills and equipment to outside companies looking to carry out their own research and development and access funding streams.
The ORE centre is part of a much larger bigger programme of investment by the Government in renewables and cleantech as it attempts to decarbonise the UK economy and become the "greenest government ever".
Yesterday, Cable announced the Government would be investing £20 million into two clean technology funds, and earlier this week, the Business Secretary released a progress report on the Government’s £3 billion Green Investment Bank
(GIB), which show both offshore wind and marine energy will be strong contenders for investment by the bank.
"The Government is committed to greening the economy – and despite the difficult financial challenges we face, we have already achieved a great amount, such as a vision for a Green Investment Bank and a commitment to world leading carbon reduction," said Cable.
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