During 2013, there was an increasing recognition amongst many in the industry (developers, regulators, their advisors and the research community) that a coordinated, strategic approach would help de-risk and accelerate the consenting of wave and tidal projects in the UK. This is particularly the case for array projects yet to be consented, and those recently consented projects with consent conditions requiring technically challenging, costly and pioneering environmental monitoring programmes.
Given this recognition, throughout 2013 and early 2014, The Crown Estate and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) organised a series of discussions with the UK’s devolved administrations, key decision makers and regulators, advisors, demonstration/commercial array-scale developers and others. There was consensus that a coordinated research programme would be a welcome development and was something worthy of continued consideration.
To kick-start development of a potential coordinated programme for the wave and tidal sectors, The Crown Estate commissioned Aquatera Ltd to undertake a desk-based study. The study sought to consolidate the key EIA/HRA issues facing the sectors and identify the current knowledge gaps and priority research areas. In addition to Aquatera involving a large number of organisations in the project’s Call for Evidence, the draft report was discussed by some 50 stakeholders at a workshop organised by NERC (Edinburgh, Nov 2013).
The workshop discussions confirmed the work was comprehensive and assisted Aquatera with finalising the report. Along with a summary of the workshop by NERC, the Aquatera report was published by The Crown Estate in January 2014.
Since the Aquatera report was published in January 2014, The Crown Estate, NERC, Marine Scotland and others have continued to progress the programme. A further meeting was held in July 2014 with the regulators, Government, devolved bodies, some first array developers and others to discuss the programme structure/management, membership and funding. There was overall support and commitment shown for the proposed structure and for the programme in general, and all wished to see it progress.
To this end, The Crown Estate, Marine Scotland and Welsh Government (the Sponsors) have committed to fund a Secretariat function to run the programme, now known as ORJIP Ocean Energy. Via the Secretariat function, ORJIP Ocean Energy will bring industry, funders and researchers together so that the sectors’ consenting risks can be addressed in a timely manner and on a strategic basis. The Secretariat role will be funded for an initial pilot phase, lasting approximately 15 months. The Secretariat function will be run by Aquatera and delivery partners MarineSpace and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).
The purpose of the pilot stage is to establish ORJIP Ocean Energy, progress research and monitoring projects in order to de-risk consenting of wave, tidal current and tidal range developments, gain experience of running the programme, and then to evaluate its progress and benefits.
The first key task of the Secretariat during the pilot phase is to produce a published report outlining the strategic research priorities that will form the focus of ORJIP Ocean Energy. This first draft of this report, entitled the Forward Look, is presented in the following document. The Forward Look will be maintained by the Secretariat throughout the Pilot Phase and updated on a six monthly basis.