PLANS to create a tidal energy centre off the coast of the Isle of Wight have received a double funding boost.
The Isle of Wight Council has secured nearly £700,000 of European money to finance preparatory works for the proposed Solent Offshore Energy Centre (SOEC), to create tidal energy testing facilities off St Catherine's Point.
A further £1.1m has been secured to establish a private sector-led consortium to support businesses across the south east looking to take advantage of opportunities in the offshore renewables sector.
The cash has come from the European Regional Development Fund.
The SOEC testing facility to develop tidal energy technology will produce 20MW of energy and could lead to the creation of a full scale tidal energy production centre, also off St Catherine’s, capable of generating 200-250 MW of green power — enough to power 136,000 homes.
The council has claimed it would create and safeguard many hundreds of jobs across the Solent region, including a significant number on the Isle of Wight.
Council leader Cllr David Pugh said the SOEC project was one of the council’s major Ecoisland projects, fulfilling its aims of using the green agenda to stimulate the local economy and employment.
"There is still a lot of work to be done to bring our SOEC scheme to fruition, but these two announcements each represent significant steps in the right direction. The council’s commitment to this project is clear so it is heartening the EU appreciates the opportunities SOEC and offshore renewables offer to the green economy.
"This is in addition to the private sector which has also made a firm and substantial contribution to the development of SOEC," he said.
A separate decision on the council’s bid for £1m of Regional Growth Funding for the project, shortlisted by the government in the summer, is due to be announced before the the end of October. An earlier bid for £20m was turned down.
Further details are due to be reported to the full council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), by economy cabinet member Cllr George Brown.