The Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) is a Scottish Government fund administered by the Carbon Trust. Its goal is to help commercialise the marine energy industry in Scotland.
£18m million in funding is available to provide capital support for projects that will accelerate the deployment of commercial-scale wave and tidal stream energy arrays in Scottish waters. The MRCF funding will be distributed before the end of the comprehensive spending review period in March 2015.
An application round was undertaken in 2012 to provide array commercialisation support for devices that have already been demonstrated at full-scale prototype stage. At the same time, similar UK and European funding schemes have made awards to three tidal array projects in Scotland. Whilst these tidal array projects are moving into first array commercialisation, it has become clear that wave array projects are not likely to be delivered within the MRCF time and spending constraints.
A targeted programme of Government support is needed for wave technologies to allow them to get to a position to successfully deploy first arrays. This can be best achieved by further technology proving and demonstrating cost reduction potential, all of which would be enhanced with support from industrial partners and OEMs who bring a depth and breadth of skills to bear as well as the financial strength needed by customers. With this in mind the Carbon Trust will allocate some MRCF funds towards a Wave First Array Support Programme. We currently expect the MRCF funds to support this wave programme and additional enabling innovation projects for first and later marine arrays.
The primary intention of the Wave First Array Support programme is to support projects that will significantly progress wave energy technology towards commercial readiness so that first wave demonstration arrays can be delivered in the 2016 to 2018 time period.
In order to address the specific challenges for wave technologies, and make the sector more attractive for industrial partners and utility customers, MRCF funds are being allocated towards a Wave First Array Support programme. As part of this, targeted programmes of Device Development and Proving and Site Development Fast Track have been devised with four key objectives:
Improving device designs, manufacturing and deployment processes and proving the reliability and performance of devices by achieving more operating experience and continuous generation through a full range of sea states.
Demonstrating cost reduction potential.
Drawing industrial partners closer to the SME technology developers.
Support project development to ensure that suitable first array sites are available when required.
The Device Development and Proving programme will support technology developers with well-progressed concepts and a proven track record who are looking to progress rapidly towards first array projects and commercialisation. The project is expected to involve the design, construction, deployment, commissioning or testing of a commercial wave prototype device suitable for first array deployments within the next few years. The project is expected to involve the technology that will form the basis of future arrays - i.e. uses the same or very similar technology and techniques such that there is limited need for further 'prototyping' stages between the MRCF project and a first array.
The Site Development Fast Track programme may support the site development activities for wave array project sites to remove site-related barriers for first arrays due to be installed within the next few years. The programme may support site-development activities where applicants can show that site development is in danger of falling behind technology development, and where the array would not otherwise be progressed. We expect the Site Development Fast Track to support sites connected to technology companies receiving support from the Device Development and Proving programme, but a site development application need not come from the technology developer.
The types of activity that can be supported are shown below; projects may consist of one of more these areas.