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4th November 2008

A new survey is being funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to draw together current data relevant to marine energy developments in the Pentland Firth.

By collating the information HIE will be able to help identify gaps that exist in the current data, and underpin future survey work needed to support the industry's development.

The final report will be made available to prospective developers of marine energy in the region. Scotland's Atlantic Ocean coastline offers world class wave energy potential while the Pentland Firth and other tidal sounds around Orkney comprise one of the richest tidal resource areas in Europe.

Head of HIE's energy team Audrey MacIver said: "The Pentland Firth and nearby waters offer a significant opportunity for the Highlands and Islands. We are delighted at the current participation of local companies and excited by the potential inward investment that this will bring to the region and Scotland as a whole.

"Coupled with this natural resource, there is a wealth of scientific, environmental and engineering skills available locally together with state-of-the-art research facilities and future investment in infrastructure planned at a number of sites throughout the region. Gathering current data as part of this contract will help direct future work, attract new renewable energy projects and avoid duplication of effort by others."

Stromness-based environmental services and products company Aquatera has been awarded the contract through the Pentland Firth Tidal Energy Project and the work should be complete by the end of the year. HIE is a partner of the tidal energy project which aims to support the development of a globally important marine energy industry in and around the Pentland Firth to the benefit of local and national economies in a sustainable and environmentally aware way.

Managing director of Aquatera Gareth Davies said: "Pulling this catalogue of data together will make a major contribution to effective decision making. With the government setting ambitious targets for marine renewables by 2020 there is little time to lose. A key part of the project will be to identify the local sources of information and expertise that will best serve the marine renewables sector as it develops.

"The established organisations and companies in the area will hopefully have a critical role to play. This will be very important for supporting existing employment in the area as well as possibly expanding employment in the future."


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