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Chilean Energy Minister Visits Scotland

21 October 2011

Mr Rodrigo Alvarez, the Chilean Energy Minister is officially visiting Scotland for two days (21 and 22 October) at the invitation of the First Minister.

The Minister is being accompanied by two colleagues from the Chilean Ministry, two officials from the Inter American Development Bank and a representative from the Chile Embassy. Today they met Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism at the offices of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in Inverness to discuss Scotland's experience in Marine Energy.

The Scottish Government is keen to share its experience with Chile on the development of Marine Energy and to assist in the exchange of knowledge between Scottish and Chilean academic and commercial partners to help develop wave and tidal energy in Chile.

The visiting party met with Scottish Government officials, companies and academics involved in Marine Energy and will visit the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney tomorrow. They are also meeting representatives from Scottish Development International (SDI) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "I am delighted to meet Mr Alvarez to share with him Scotland's experience on the development of marine energy and assist in the exchange of knowledge between Scottish and Chilean academic and commercial partners to help develop wave and tidal energy in Chile.

"Scotland is leading the world in renewables and we have enormous potential for wave and tidal energy. But we recognise we cannot create a global marine energy industry alone and need to work with other countries such as Chile, which also has substantial marine energy resources, to grow a wider global market and accelerate technology uptake."

Calum Davidson, director of Energy and Low Carbon at HIE, gave a presentation to the Chilean delegation and leading Scottish marine energy developers. He commented: "As the world-leader in marine energy, we are delighted to be able to host this important meeting with the Chilean Energy Minister and many of Scotland's marine energy leaders. This is a great opportunity to share experiences and highlight Scotland's expertise in this fast-emerging industry. Chile, like Scotland, is blessed with some of the best marine energy resources in the world, and it makes sense for our countries to collaborate in our efforts to maximise the opportunities these present.

"With Chile's Atlantic salmon farming industry having close links with Scotland's, information sharing and business development links between the two countries are not new. We look forward to strengthening these links in marine energy."

The Chilean Government is at an early stage of looking to develop their Marine Energy Industry. SDI has worked for over 4 years to encourage the Chilean Government to put the right regulatory framework in place to support the development of their significant wave and tidal resource. SDI signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on 7 Dec 2010.

Chile's western seaboard has one of the best resources in the world. The raw energy potential from wave energy could be as much as 165 GW which is more than 10 times the current installed capacity in the country. Chile has a growing economy and electricity use is growing with a forecast requirement of 10GW by 2020. To date this has been met by imported gas and coal, together with significant hydro.

In order to change this mix, the Chilean Government has set an aspirational 20 per cent renewables target by 2020. SDI, in association with the Inter American Development Bank, will be organising a Marine Energy workshop in Santiago, Chile later in the year as part of the MoU.

EMEC was established with around £15 million of funding from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Carbon Trust, the UK Government, Scottish Enterprise, the European Union and Orkney Islands Council.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is currently investing £2.95 million, including £1.8million from the European Regional Development Fund, in six new units at Hatston to meet the needs of tidal energy developers in Orkney. The first units will be completed in early 2012 and ultimately the development will support around 35 jobs. EMEC itself plans to lease one of the six HIE units, and is already attracting interest in the others from developers.

It was announced yesterday that Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) from Japan intends to test its new tidal energy system at EMEC, using its expertise in engines, marine propulsion and gas turbines systems to develop a tidal power generation system.

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