First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed a new overseas investment in Scotland's world-leading marine energy sector.
Alstom, the French-headquartered global power generation, transmission and rail transportation company, has acquired a 40 per cent stake in Inverness-based AWS Ocean Energy Ltd, developer of the AWS-III wave power device. The First Minister met senior executives of both companies at Edinburgh Castle on Tuesday evening (21June).
Highlands and Islands Enterprise works closely with AWS, as an account-managed client. The Scottish Government, through Scottish Enterprise, has provided funding support to AWS in recent years - with a £1.4 million WATERS grant to support testing of the AWS-III in Loch Ness and the Cromarty Firth, and a £2 million joint investment from the Scottish Investment Bank's Co-Investment Fund and Shell Technology Ventures in early 2010.
The First Minister said: "This is a hugely significant investment announcement that brings together a pioneering Scottish marine energy developer with one of the world's leading power generation and transmission companies, which is entering the wave energy market for the first time. It is a strong vote of confidence in the innovation and engineering capabilities of AWS and their partners and underlines the growing strength of Scotland's renewables industry as we look to harness our unrivalled wave, tidal and wind sources.
"We are determined to provide the optimum environment for the development and deployment of clean energy technology, working with private and public sector partners to forge a truly low carbon economy both in Scotland and further afield. I'm very pleased that the Scottish Government's enterprise agencies have been able to support AWS as it has developed its technology and business. It is clear that in the global race to harness energy from our seas and oceans, Scotland rules the waves."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise Energy and Low Carbon Director Calum Davidson said: "This is a major step forward in the development of the wave energy industry in Scotland. Alstom has carefully examined new wave technologies from around the world and we are absolutely delighted that a global business of this scale has clearly identified the potential of the AWS team and their device. Alstom's backing will now provide the business with the resource to take the next steps in developing their technology, leading to a full scale demonstrator. Scotland is a clear leader in wave and tidal energy, with the Highlands and Islands now the clear location of choice for testing and deploying these technologies. This move is a further vote of confidence in the innovation and ability of our people and businesses."
Simon Grey, AWS Ocean Energy's Chief Executive, said: "Alstom's investment is a significant boost for AWS Ocean Energy and Scotland's wave energy sector as a whole. Alstom's decision to invest in our company, as well as the support of the Scottish Government, are strong endorsements of what we have achieved so far, and a major source of motivation to accelerate the commercial development of our technology.
"With Alstom as a major backer, AWS Ocean Energy has a delivery capability which our utility customers will need in order to realise their major wave energy projects in Scotland and elsewhere. Alstom's investment provides us with the stability we need in order to attract top talent to work for us and so today we are launching a recruitment campaign to expand our engineering team at Inverness."
Philippe Cochet, Senior Vice President Hydro & Wind, Alstom, said "We are extremely excited about entering the wave energy market at this pivotal time. Our engagement with AWS today forms an important part of the strategic development of our recently created business activity, Alstom Ocean. Having reviewed many different technologies, and undertaken further detailed analysis with the most promising, we are absolutely confident that AWS-III is a technology that perfectly complements our existing ocean activities: tidal energy and offshore wind, while further reinforcing Alstom's position as a leading supplier of clean energy solutions."
Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson said: "AWS-III technology is a great example of innovative Scottish energy engineering and this latest investment from Alstom underlines confidence in the company and its technology as a viable future renewable energy source. Scotland's renewables sector is going from strength to strength and we are delighted that both the WATERS grant and our Co-Investment Fund, through the Scottish Investment Bank alongside Shell Technology Ventures, have helped contribute to the company's growth and development."
John Anderson, Chairman of AWS Ocean Energy, said "Today's announcement is due to so many factors: the hard work and commitment of Simon Grey and the rest of the AWS team in Inverness, the vital support of our existing shareholders, the collaboration with partners and suppliers such as the University of Strathclyde and the encouragement of people within the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. With Alstom's investment and industrial pedigree, AWS is on course to be a major technology provider to the international wave energy sector."