Peter, who has over 30 years experience working in the engineering and energy sector will now chair the board which is made up of representatives from the marine energy industry and south west universities, together with representatives from Local Enterprise Partnerships, Regen SW and Local Authorities.
Peter’s election comes as the steering board approved the South West MEP’s business plan and received confirmation of initial funding contributions from a coalition of local partners including Cornwall Council, Bristol City Council, Plymouth City Council, University of Exeter, Plymouth University and Wave Hub.
This initial funding, which will be matched by contributions from the private sector, has enabled the South West MEP to commence a programme of initiatives which are intended to make the south west a spring board for the commercial deployment of the marine energy sector. They include promoting and marketing the south west marine energy industry at a national and international level, influencing energy policies and working with local stakeholders and national bodies such as the Crown Estate and Marine Management Organisation to establish a commercial development plan for the industry.
The South West MEP will also be working in partnership with local authorities, LEPs and inward investment agencies to secure investment in the ports, grid infrastructure, skills development and supply chain which are required to sustain industry growth.
The long term strategy for the south west includes the deployment of over 2GW of marine energy technology by the mid 2020s which could be the catalyst for the industry to create over 5000 jobs in the offshore energy sector. In the near term the park hopes to deliver at least 50 MW of renewable energy projects by 2017.
A top priority for the South West MEP is to attract finance and investment into the sector, and the board moved quickly to put in place a finance working group which will target investment from the private sector as well as UK Government and EU funding. Already plans are in place to hold a south west/Guernsey finance seminar in the new year to explore how the South West MEP can work with the investment funds managed in the Channel islands.
The South West MEP is a great example of a public/private partnership coming together to support industry growth. Success now will depend on how the partnership is able to work together to utilise the fantastic assets and natural resources that we have in the south west including our dynamic and innovative businesses.