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Collapsed firm gets a second chance

Ex-Pelamis staff secure £14 million funds to develop wave technology

Fergus EwingFormer employees of a collapsed wave energy company will be the first recipients of the biggest ever package of government support to help develop the technology.

Wave Energy Scotland, set up by energy minister Fergus Ewing (pictured) following the collapse of Pelamis, will receive £14.3 million over the next thirteen months.

It will support 12 former employees of the Edinburgh company, including its chief executive Richard Yemm, to work on its ground-breaking technology in a new company, Quoceant.

Speaking ahead of the RenewableUK conference in Edinburgh Mr Ewing said: “This is the biggest technology development programme the wave sector has ever seen.

“We have adopted a completely new approach to funding the sector. It is one that will foster collaborative research and development and will encourage technology developers to work with large engineering companies, academics and each other to address shared challenges.

“I am also very glad that we were able to deliver on our aspiration to capture the know-how from device development and retain some of the best brains working in marine energy in Scotland.”

Last month, Highland and Islands Enterprise, on behalf of Wave Energy Scotland, acquired the intellectual property and a range of physical assets previously owned by Pelamis.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said: “This is an exciting time for the wave energy sector in Scotland and it offers a great opportunity to draw on the expertise which exists in industry and academia. The WES team don’t underestimate the challenges which lie ahead. But this is a chance not to be missed and the team is relishing being able to take a fresh approach to resolving the issues which so often hamper the early stages of the development of innovative technology.”

HIE’s head of offshore development, Tim Hurst, has been appointed interim director of Wave Energy Scotland. He will use his experience across the energy sector, coupled with support from the Carbon Trust and Edinburgh University, to lead the development of the operating model for WES.

Mr Paterson said: “Good progress has been made and there will be announcements shortly on the first project calls and the recruitment of core staff for WES.”

Mr Yemm, managing director of Quoceant, said: “Quoceant brings together a core of specialist skills and experience built-up and honed at Pelamis because we know this can find valued application across a much wider cross-section of industry. We are very excited at the prospect of applying our world leading capability to new applications.”

RenewableUK’s wave & tidal development manager, Dee Nunn, said: “This is great news for the wave energy sector; a resounding endorsement of the enormous potential of the industry at the very time when it’s needed most. Following a number of setbacks in recent months, this key announcement will help us to move forward with a renewed sense of confidence.

“We’d like to thank the Scottish Government for its tireless work in continuing to support marine energy in innovative ways. Wave Energy Scotland looks set to be a key player in terms of technological development. What we need now is for all UK Governments to work together in a closely co-ordinated way to support wave and tidal energy and secure the economic benefits for all parts of the nation. This will help the sector to mature and attract much-needed investment, driving down costs in the long term as we successfully harness one of our most powerful natural resources”.

The deal with Pelamis is structured as follows:

The Scottish Government is supporting Wave Energy Scotland with a budget of £1.3 million in the current financial year and £13 million in 2015/16.

The £1.3 million budget for this financial year covers the costs of establishing the new entity and the costs of the acquisition of intellectual property and other assets from Pelamis Wave Power.

The £13 million budget for 2015/16 will allow WES to offer five funding calls worth £10.5 million to address a range of technology priorities, including power-take off systems, control systems, and moorings and foundations. It will also enable WES to recruit a small staff team – around 10 to 12 employees – and an industry-led advisory group. There will be an open and competitive recruitment process for staff and a call for the advisory group in March 2015.

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