The Channel’s MRE Sector: Status Report

McKinley, E. and Feast, M. The Channel’s MRE Sector: Status Report. Project Report. University of Chichester. (Unpublished)

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Marine renewable energy (MRE) is a fast evolving sector, with increasing recognition of its role in establishing energy security, reducing dependence on traditional fossil fuels, mitigation of the impacts associated with climate change, and supporting an increased reliance on clean, renewable energy. The Channel region, spanning from Norfolk to Devon in England and Nord Pas de Calais to Brittany in France, has the potential to further develop its MRE activity, and really highlight its capacity as a leader in MRE technologies and advancement. Within the Channel region, there are currently a number of MRE proposed MRE installations, including the Rampion wind farm, Navitus Bay, and the AREVA 8 installation and, currently, the UK is a global leader in MRE investment and development, particularly in the wave and tidal sector. However, it should be noted that the English and French MRE markets are at different stages of development; however, as MRE in France continues to develop, the potential for an effective and sustainable Channel wide supply chain, supporting local content across the Channel region will continue to increase. The Channel MOR project has been funded by INTERREG IV A to evaluate and identify the current and future business opportunities for SMEs within the Channel/ Le Manche region. Further to this, the Channel MOR project highlights the value of the sector on both a national and European level and the importance of ensuring MRE has a supportive policy landscape. In addition, the Channel MOR project aims to create an MRE community across the Channel region, with particular emphasis on supporting SMEs engaging with the sector.
This component of the project research aimed to meet the following objectives:
 Analysis of current and future MRE markets, understanding barriers for entry
 To identify the current activities and opportunities for international collaborations
 To map the current MRE market and identify opportunities for SMEs
 To identify the current and future requirements in relation to innovation, new processes, diversification, and skills
This research takes a multi-phase approach to evaluation of the current MRE activity within the Channel region, including planned and projected projects. Two comprehensive databases were compiled: 1) a detailed database of all global MRE installations, including offshore wind (OSW), wave and tidal energy technologies and 2) a database providing an overview of current and future potential business activity and capacity for engagement with the MRE sector. Analysis of these databases highlighted the opportunities for Channel businesses on a more global scale, and also identified where and how SMEs could engage with the MRE supply chain across the entire 5 tier lifecycle. In total over 4500 businesses were identified as being currently or having the potential to become operational within the MRE supply chain, across a range of activities. In fact, the analysis indicated that the Channel region is very well placed to serve the supply chain across the entirety of the MRE lifecycle, with only a small number of business activities within the supply chain found to be real capacity gaps. These gaps included the construction of wind turbines for OSW energy development, and on a smaller scale, tuned damper (part of the noise and vibration reduction technologies) development was not found to have any current or potential supplier, highlighting it as a potential opportunity for businesses to enter into the supply chain. One of the key observations is that due to the size of the region, it is likely that at all phases of the MRE lifecycle, there will be at least one company that has, or could have, the potential to deliver/ supply; however, the key challengeis whether these SMEs have the capacity in terms of resources and logistics to deliver within a short time frame. Understanding these capacity gaps and, additionally, the challenges associated with intellectual property and commercial relationship issues within the MRE sector will be key to supporting SME involvement as marine renewable technology continues to develop.
In addition to the desk based analysis of the sector, a number of stakeholder and expert workshops were organised to identify key challenges facing the sector and highlight new opportunities, with specific focus on opportunities for SMEs. Analysis of the current and future market opportunities both across the Channel region and on a more global scale found that, on the whole, SMEs have the knowledge and expertise to engage with most activities across the MRE lifecycle. In addition, working alongside a number of industry experts, five new spaces/ opportunities were identified:
 Wave energy
 Tidal energy
 Electrical connectors
 Surveys
 Condition monitoring
While it is recognised that MRE is continually growing energy technology with an increasing role in future energy security, would benefit from greater involvement from local and regional SME activity within the supply chain, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed. Currently the sector is underpinned by a complex, lengthy and costly consent process, and is often challenged by the perception that it is a high risk investment for financiers, limiting attractiveness for SMEs. Further to this, there is a need to reduce associated costs both for suppliers and customers, and a lack of certainty around social acceptability of MRE and its impact on the overall growth of the sector; both of which require significant effort in order to make the sector a more attractive and viable business option for SMEs.
Through this research, a number of requirements/ recommendations for the future success of the Channel’s MRE sector have been identified.
 Further recognition of the MRE sector as a strategic priority for Europe, supporting economic regeneration and energy security across the region
 Improved connections to the national grids and development of required infrastructure in England and France
 In order to address the perception of high risk associated with the MRE sector, evidence is required to ensure the sector will have long-term and sustainable financial stability over time, including: funding support, grant opportunities and market pull initiatives that support both developers, but also the SMEs within the wider supply chain
 Standardisation of device and array design, training and skills qualifications and other sector requirements
 Identification of SME capacity gaps and encouragement of collaboration between SMEs to enhance overall capacity for delivery (perhaps through the formation of regional clusters or networks)
 Provision of clear and transparent information be provided to SMEs; particularly as the emphasis on local content within the MRE supply chain continues to grow
 Overall, it is recognised that the real opportunities for Channel based businesses are likely to focus on activity on a more global scale, with potential for SMEs to engage with a more international supply chain, developing and exporting skills and expertise from the Channel region

Item Type: Monographs (Project Report)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Business School
Depositing User: Emma McKinley
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2016 13:53
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2016 13:53

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