The Morlais tidal stream energy project has taken a significant step forward following approval of its outline business case by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board.
The approval means that Morlais, a tidal stream energy project led by Menter Môn, will now progress to the next stage – the last before construction can begin.
If the final business case is approved, the board will invest up to £9 million of Growth Deal funding towards the infrastructure that connects the Morlais zone to the electricity network.
Once completed, the Morlais project will allow developers to generate renewable electricity using one of the best tidal resources in Europe.
Morlais is one of five projects within the Growth Deal’s Low Carbon Energy Programme which is expected to unlock the economic benefits from this growing sector. The programme aims to position north Wales at the forefront of the low-carbon energy sector and the drive towards net-zero by 2050.
Dyfrig Siencyn, chair of the economic ambition board, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Growth Deal. It’s the first project we have approved to move to the next phase since we signed the deal with Government in December 2020.
“It’s extremely important that projects deliver benefits into our local communities, value for money and contribute towards our carbon reduction commitments. I look forward to seeing the project progress and the positive impact Growth Deal funding has on its development”.
Llinos Medi, leader of the Isle of Anglesey County Council, added: “Morlais is an important project for us here on the island as well as the wider north Wales region. Not only will it secure long-term high-quality jobs and develop supply chains but it can also deliver training opportunities for our young people here in their own communities. Having gained approval at this first stage is a real boost and will go a long way to ensuring Morlais becomes a reality”.
Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, a director with Morlais, welcomed the announcement saying: “We are grateful for the support from the economic ambition board, and we’re delighted to pass this first milestone towards securing Growth Deal funding. As a local company, ensuring the project benefits our communities is at the heart of what we do.
“The vision for Morlais has always been to make sure the huge potential of the marine energy sector in terms of jobs, skills, investment and the supply chain are realised locally for Anglesey and across the wider region”.
If the project gains approval for its final business case, and the necessary consent from Welsh Government, construction is expected to start this winter and conclude in 2023.
The Morlais Demonstration Zone is planned to provide a consented area for the installation and commercial demonstration of multiple arrays of tidal energy devices, to a maximum installed capacity of 240MW.
The project would also develop communal infrastructure through the provision of electrical infrastructure, including substations and onshore electrical cable route to grid connection.
It would also provide the supporting electrical infrastructure to connect tidal energy converters within the demonstration zone, and export the electricity generated to grid.