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Wales invests in the world’s first blue energy island

13 November 2020

Nova Innovation has secured an investment of £1.2 million from the Welsh Government for its Enlli tidal energy project in North Wales.

Credit: Nova Innovation

The Enlli project creates the opportunity to generate electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the tide between Ynys Enlli – ‘The Island in the Currents’ – and the mainland of the Llyn Peninsula. It has the potential to help the ‘Island in the Currents’ switch from a dependency on diesel generation to become the world’s first blue energy island.

The funding provided by the Welsh Government, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will support the environmental consenting and engineering design work for this ground-breaking project. Nova plans to install five 100kW turbines on the seabed with a view to install more turbines in the future.

In addition to developing a new source of clean energy, the £1.2 million investment creates opportunities for sustainable business and jobs for local people in the new low carbon economy. 

Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “As Wales looks to respond to the challenges posed by the climate emergency, we need to harness the ambition and innovative spirit of renewable energy providers like Nova, ensuring that their expertise and experience can be put to good use in Wales.

“As such, I am very pleased that we have been able to support Nova in their Ynys Enlli tidal energy project. Wales was at the leading edge of the first industrial revolution and through projects like these we can play a leading role in the green industrial revolution taking place today.”

Nova’s tidal turbines are completely hidden beneath the surface of the sea, with none of the visual siting issues faced by wind, solar and conventional fossil fuels. Environmental monitoring of Nova’s Shetland Tidal Array in Bluemull Sound, which includes regular seabird and marine mammal surveys of the area and use of underwater cameras to monitor wildlife around the turbines has not detected any negative impacts on marine wildlife.

Simon Forrest, Nova’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Harnessing the immense, natural power of the tides in Swnt Enlli (Bardsey Sound) will provide clean ocean energy for the local community and help regenerate the local economy. Our tidal turbines have been powering the Shetland grid for over four years and we are very excited about helping drive the blue economy in north Wales.” 

Tidal energy is unique among renewable energy resources as it is predictable ahead of time, helping to meet and balance local demand. Nova’s project provides an opportunity for local communities to power their homes, businesses and vehicles using the power of the tide. 

Jess Hooper from Marine Energy Wales added: “This is yet another boost for the marine energy sector in Wales, and helps us deepen our Celtic connections as this project draws on expertise and learning from the world’s first offshore tidal array – three tried, tested and monitored turbines installed in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Transferring this knowledge and experience to North Wales will have far reaching benefits, for communities, business, the sector and, crucially, for wider action on climate change. Following on from Wales’ Climate Week, it’s great to see the blue economy contributing to the green recovery with action translating to real progress in Wales’ bid to achieve net-zero.”

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