The Consents and Planning Process
In order to license the PTEC development, applications must be submitted to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for:
- Permission to generate and supply electricity under Section 36 (S36) of the Electricity Act 1989
- Permission to place devices and cables on the seabed (a Marine Licence) under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009)
- Permission to construct infrastructure onshore, either under S36 deemed planning or under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
The Marine Policy Statement (MPS) provides a framework for marine licencing contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom marine area.
The development also requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (85/336/EC). The purpose of an EIA is to ensure that any project with the potential to have significant environmental effects, due to its nature, size or location, is subjected to an effective assessment to inform the application for planning permission. The output of an EIA is an Environmental Statement.
All Environmental Statements are publically accessible once they have been submitted to the appropriate authority for consideration. Representations from the public, as well as local authorities and nature conservation bodies are invited at this time as part of the consultation process. The appropriate authority will take into consideration all responses and representations while considering a project application. Once a consent decision is made it will be announced publically.
Applications for consent for the PTEC project were submitted at the end of November 2014.
If consent is granted, then construction will take place between 2016 and 2018. Once construction is completed, the facility will be commissioned and operational during 2017-2018.
The differences between the existing tidal device test centre at EMEC (Orkney) and the proposed PTEC tidal array demonstration facility (Isle of Wight).
The proposed Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC) would be the world’s leading multi-technology tidal array demonstration facility, providing the next step in the commercialisation of tidal energy and moving on from the developments made at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) testing facility which provides developers of both wave and tidal energy converters with purpose-built, accredited open-sea testing facilities.
The fundamental difference between EMEC and PTEC is that EMEC tests and develops conceptual technologies, while PTEC moves these developed prototypes towards commercialisation. The purpose of EMEC is to test and develop conceptual designs that have only previously trialled in test benches, tow tanks or via computer models, whereas PTEC would enable in situ long-term demonstration of pre-commercial devices and arrays of devices. The devices at EMEC are in test phases meaning they are frequently out of action, often for long periods of time in bad weather, and require a high level of servicing, alterations and both repairs at sea and on land. The purpose of PTEC would be to demonstrate the long term running, management and monitoring of arrays of proven devices (tested at EMEC or equivalent sites). Maintenance work for these prototypes is expected to be less than for EMEC and is more likely to focus on the management and monitoring aspects of arrays prior to them being deployed on larger scales elsewhere.
Rationale for Site Selection
The Crown Estate owns the majority of the seabed and seashore around the UK. The Crown Estate agrees leases for marine developments, dredging and aggregate extraction on a commercial basis. As part of this process, the Crown Estate has agreed leases for a number of areas of seabed for wave and tidal projects over the last few years.
An agreement for lease for the PTEC site was awarded by the Crown Estate in November 2012, along with two other tidal sites in Orkney (Scotrenewables) and Strangford Lough (Minesto). Agreement for lease is the first stage in securing the right to construct and operate a tidal energy development from the Crown Estate but is subject to receiving further consents from the relevant authorities. Tidal sites identified from 2013 onwards were selected via the independent ‘UK Wave and Tidal Key Resource Areas Project’ that was undertaken on behalf of The Crown Estate in 2012. Information on tidal resources was provided by the Energy Technologies Institute who model tidal energy resources across the UK continental shelf. Unlike wave resources, tidal resources only occur at discrete locations.
PTEC has an Agreement for Lease with The Crown Estate for a specific area of seabed of approximately 5km2. The PTEC site is unique and was selected by the PTEC project team on the basis of the following combined parameters:
- Tidal current velocities
- PTEC reviewed tidal velocities over a 40km2 area before selecting the optimum site. The selected site has relatively low turbulence, especially in comparison to nearer shore areas. The channel the site overlays has prime ‘directionality’ meaning that the ebb and flood flow directions are very close to 180 degrees phase difference; this is a key consideration for tidal turbines to reduce/prevent yaw.
- Bathymetry and site depth
- The site provides optimum variation in depth, which is required for the site to be suitable for deployment of a number of different devices.
- The bathymetry in the area is well suited to deployment of floating, moored and seabed mounted devices.
- Environmental and physical constraints
- The offshore development site is outside all ecological and geological designations; although the export cables will cross part of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This crossing is being discussed with Natural England.
- The site avoids hard constraints such as the disused munitions dump and shipping lanes.
- The location minimises disruption to the Round the Island Race route.
- The onshore site has been selected to sit outside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- Proximity to shore allows safe and efficient access for installation and operation & maintenance (O&M) vessels.
Environmental Impact Assessment
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project has been completed, which was led by Royal HaskoningDHV. This formed part of the consent application which PTEC Ltd submitted in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Engineering and Design
A Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study was also completed for PTEC Ltd, by renewable energy specialists IT Power. The FEED study helped PTEC Ltd to decide on a number of design and technology details which was assessed during the EIA process.
Marine mammal and seabird surveys were undertaken from August 2013 to July 2014 using the Mabel Alice survey vessel. Analysis of this data and the impact assessment work is now underway.
Marine geophysical surveys and seabed (“benthic”) ecology surveys were completed successfully in August and September 2013 in and around the site and cable route options. In parallel, there are a number of other surveys and assessments undertaken as part of the FEED and EIA process.
A well attended public exhibition was held on Wednesday 19th March at The Spyglass Inn in Ventnor where members of the project development team were on hand to assist in answering questions on the day.
Exhibition boards were on display showing different examples of what the demonstration site could look like and explaining how tidal arrays work. To view the boards please click here.
Feedback forms were available at the exhibition to gather the local residents opinions on the proposals. Some of the comments captured are shown below:
- “Best wishes for a successful application.”
- “It is such a good idea and we must (as a community and society) start to do something useful with our natural energy.”
- “It’s got to be the best option so needs to progress quickly”
All feedback from the exhibition was collated into a report and supported the planning application, which was submitted towards the end of November 2014.