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Queen's property manager to fund UK wave, tidal energy projects

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 16 Jan 2013 12:16 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Project developers to apply for funding by Feb. 15

* Projects should make investment decision by March 2014

LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Crown Estate, which manages the British monarchy's property, wants to spend up to 20 million pounds (${esc.dollar}32.18 million) on two tidal and wave energy schemes to attract other investors.

The wave and tidal power industry is in its infancy in Britain and development costs remain high but the government estimates it could contribute over 10 percent of Britain's electricity needs by 2050.

The Crown Estate wants marine energy developers to apply for investment by Feb. 15.

"By bringing our capital and expertise to bear, we hope to catalyse investments by others and to see projects proceed to construction and operation as soon as possible," said Rob Hastings, director of the energy and infrastructure portfolio at the Crown Estate, which looks after Britain's sea shores.

Government subsidies for marine energy projects will more than double from April 1 to help kick start the sector which, as a technology export, could add up to 4.3 billion pounds to the country's gross domestic product up to 2050.

Projects eligible for Crown Estate investment should reach a final investment decision by March 2014, have received a lease agreement and obtained or be close to obtaining planning permits and grid connections.

The Crown Estate also awards leasing rights for areas off the UK coast for renewable energy projects but a spokeswoman said a strict separation of duties within the agency ensured there was no conflict of interest between the leasing and the investment entities.

She said there were no plans to launch any further leasing rounds for marine energy projects in the near future.

The Crown Estate has previously invested up to 100 million pounds in the early stages of offshore wind farm development.

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