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The South West offers some of the best wave and tidal resources in the UK 

Falmouth marine energy test site set for further success

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners have renewed a lease with The Crown Estate to continue using of an area of Falmouth Bay for testing new technology related to marine renewable energy for a further five years.

FaBTest has been operational since 2011 and has seen two different technologies deployed on site for a total of over thirty months. Further deployments are expected this summer, with the next anticipated device being the WaveSub technology, being built by Swansea based company Marine Power Systems Ltd.

Taking on the renewed lease marks the beginning of a new iteration of the test site, with a new business case structure for the management and operation of FaBTest led by the University of Exeter and supported by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. The test site is a key part of the development pathway for marine renewable energy in the South West region and is one of the assets identified by the recently launched ERDF funded ‘Marine-i’ project, that has the aim to stimulate and support business-led and market-driven R&D and innovation.

Prof Lars Johanning, Marine-i lead and FaBTest project manager for the University, said: “The site offers a combination of both shelter from prevailing wind and swell direction, enabling the high levels of accessibility to deployed devices required for device development, yet giving exposure to significant sea states allowing devices to generate significant electricity. This unique feature of the test site is elementary in the development of the marine energy sector, and an important selling point for the SW region.”

Captain Mark Sansom, Harbour Master and CEO of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, said: “We are delighted to have been able to renew the lease for the FaBTest Site which we believe has already demonstrated its importance to the development of wave energy. We look forward to supporting the University with its management of the Site and are confident that it will fulfil its potential as a local and regional asset for the testing of new devices.

Adrian Fox, Portfolio Manager – Energy Assets at The Crown Estate, said: “The South West region offers some of the best wave and tidal resources in the UK and we are pleased to see the FaBTest facility building on the success of its first five years of operation. The site, and the link to academia, provide a valuable starting point in the value chain of demonstration facilities provided by the region in its ambition to realise viable commercial marine energy generation.”

Although the site was established by the Harbour Commissioners and the University of Exeter with support from leading companies in the local supply chain, the site has benefitted from public investment, including £549,000 from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund between 2013 and 2016, approved by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The LEP recognised FaBTest as a key investment priority and a unique asset which can create economic benefits and market opportunities.

More recently, the LEP and Council have given direct support to the site operations during the transition into the new operational structure, as part of the formation of Marine Hub Cornwall, which has been created to bring Cornwall’s marine technology expertise together under one roof.

Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Marine energy is a really exciting emerging sector and a priority for the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership. Earlier this year Cornwall Council and its partners launched Marine Hub Cornwall which brings together existing assets and programmes of work into a co-ordinated offer to the marine energy sector. FaBTest is a really important part of this offer and we are delighted by the news that Falmouth Harbour Commissioners have renewed the FaBTest lease with The Crown Estate.”

Date: 10 April 2017