Planning permission has been granted for the onshore elements of a ground-breaking tidal energy generation project: Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre. The Isle of Wight Council unanimously approved the construction of a substation within the Southern Water Services compound to the west of Ventnor.

The PTEC project has received funding from Interreg Channel Manche through the TIGER project.

This approval is a huge boost to the UK’s renewable energy sector. PTEC now has all the consents in place to proceed with its proposal – England’s first multi megawatt tidal stream power generation project. By placing tidal turbines in the sea off the south coast of the Isle of Wight, the project will supply predictable, renewable energy direct to the national grid.

PTEC, with consenting activities being managed by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), has already signed an agreement with technology developer Orbital Marine Power to deploy its innovative O2 turbine with the project.

EMEC led the reconsenting works at the site including an updated Section 36, full planning application and Environmental Impact Assessment, as well as managing an application to SSEN for access to the electrical grid. Crucial to the success of the project has been building supply chain partnerships across the UK with a strong focus on companies local to the Isle of Wight, including RSK Group, AECOM, Athene Communications, Modh Design, Joe Hussey, and Mark Dickson Planning.

Ventnor, Isle of Wight (Credit PTEC)

This planning approval is particularly timely given the government’s announcement in November that it will support the tidal energy sector. It has committed to give £20 million per year in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) round, which opened yesterday.

Rob Stevens, chairman of PTEC, said:

At a time when the world’s reliance on fossil fuels is causing significant challenges, gaining permission for the onshore elements of the PTEC project is of national importance. Tidal energy is now a proven route to continuous, clean energy generation and has enormous potential. The government’s commitment comes at the perfect time, enabling the UK to take advantage of this source of carbon neutral energy generation.

Once we have government support in place we can start work, with the aim to begin operations in 2025. Throughout the planning process, we’ve offered multiple opportunities and avenues for stakeholders and residents to engage with us, and their feedback has helped us shape our proposal. Going forward regular consultation and engagement will be fundamental to the construction process to make it as smooth as possible.

Matt Storey, technical project manager at EMEC, said:

The PTEC site is crucial as it now provides a clear consented pathway for the commercialisation of tidal stream power in England and is fully compliant for applications under the government’s Contracts for Difference scheme. It has been a pleasure to manage a project of such potential national importance with a client who committed to growing the marine energy industry. A zero carbon energy mix is vital for the country to meet and hopefully exceed its climate goals.

Oliver Wragg, commercial director at Orbital, said:

With clear Government backing for tidal stream energy, we are now seeing significant commercial project opportunities come forward with the ability to secure a CfD in AR4 and move into construction. We very much see this as the UK Government firing the starting gun on what will rapidly become a new global renewable energy industry and paving the way for Orbital to provide meaningful volumes of clean and predictable energy to help turn the tide on climate change.

Successful project applications will result in substantial inward investment in UK supply chain, with creation of hundreds of jobs across the length and breadth of the country. In addition to the manufacture of Orbital turbines, long-term local employment will be created to support the ongoing delivery of these flagship renewable energy projects.

Onshore construction work is anticipated to commence in 2023, for completion by 2025. In line with the commitments made during the public consultation process, PTEC will work with local residents and businesses to ensure minimal disturbance.

The PTEC project will bring economic growth to the Isle of Wight, creating an innovative new industry sector for the island and renewed attention to this part of the UK, as well as helping the Isle of Wight Council achieve the targets it has set in its recently published ‘Mission Zero Climate and Environment Strategy 2021 – 2040’.

Sources: EMEC, Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre, Orbital Marine Power