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Marine Energy Array Demonstrator (MEAD) capital grant scheme

In June 2010 Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced funding of up to £20m to support innovation in marine energy technologies, subject to value for money assessments.

That budget will be used to fund the Marine Energy Array Demonstrator (MEAD) Scheme. The MEAD will support up to 2 pre-commercial projects to demonstrate the operation of wave and/or tidal devices in array formation for an extended period of time. By supporting the sector as it moves from single device prototypes to first arrays of full-scale devices, the MEAD will build confidence in the technology as a viable option to produce bulk electricity and in its potential contribution to the long-term deployment of renewable energy.

Earlier this year MPs said that funding support for the first arrays would be critical to the UK capturing the huge potential of wave and tidal energy, so it’s good news that this long-awaited competition has been launched. Wave Hub is specifically designed for wave array testing and is uniquely placed to attract this sort of activity. We are now talking to device developers about how this fund could assist their planned deployments at Wave Hub.

Claire Gibson, Wave Hub’s General Manager

Award of MEAD funds will be subject to prior State Aid approval. DECC is currently applying for State Aid clearance for the scheme and will seek clearance to cumulate the grant funding with the relevant Government’s revenue support.

To encourage technology acceleration in marine energy this call will focus on those projects that meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The array must expect to generate at least 7 GWh per year when complete and must include at least three generating devices. We expect this to equate to a capacity factor of at least 3MW. Larger arrays at or in excess of 10GWh annual energy production will be assessed more favourably and we expect to support arrays of between 5MW and 10MW nameplate capacity. 
  • The technology used must have been previously demonstrated at full-scale in real-sea conditions with comparable resource to the project site and using devices of equivalent design and scale to those to be installed in the MEAD project.
  • The technology used in the MEAD project must be manifestly similar in scale and concept to devices that will be installed in future commercial arrays. 
  • Project planning must be underway such that the complete project can be energised by 31 March 2016 at the latest. At the time of application: 
  • The project site must have an in-principle grid-connection lined up, with connection to have been completed before 31 March 2016.
  • The project must hold an agreement for lease for a wave and/or tidal array at the site from the relevant leasing body (probably The Crown Estate). 
  • Application for planning consents must be well underway, with at least a formal scoping letter from the relevant consenting body or bodies available at the application date. To achieve this we expect that baseline environmental monitoring will have already commenced. 
  • The project site must be entirely within UK territorial waters and must supply electricity to the UK grid. 
  • Arrays awarded MEAD funding are expected to operate for a minimum of 2 years. (Although we expect arrays to operate for up to 20 years, and to provide a commercial return based on sale of electricity and revenue support).