Scotland unveils new offshore wind technology fund

EDINBURGH Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:27am EDT

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond on Tuesday announced a new 35 million pound ($54 million) offshore wind technology fund at the start of a two-day Scottish low carbon investment conference.

Salmond also said Edinburgh-based Oyster wave energy developer Aquamarine Power had secured seven million pounds in new funding and a commitment of further investment from existing shareholders over the next two years to help the company into commercial production in 2014.

"Last year's conference gave a clear focus on what was needed to provide optimum investment conditions for low carbon energy -- from ensuring we brought offshore oil and gas expertise together with the renewables industry, to providing the right support to bring research and development to Scotland," Salmond said.

"As developers and investors look across this global market for certainty and for leadership from government, they can look to Scotland to provide these things," he added.

He said the new fund would "support production of full-scale prototypes of the next-generation offshore wind turbines."

He added it aimed "to leverage up to a further 80 million pounds of private investment to bring the production of full-scale prototypes to Scottish sites."

Salmond said the new funding for Aquamarine Power comprised three million pounds each from shareholders SSE Venture Capital and ABB, and one million pounds from Scottish Enterprise through the Scottish Investment Bank.

He said these investments would help achieve Scotland's aim of achieving its 2020 target of generating the equivalent of 100 percent of electricity demand from renewables.

Aquamarine Power CEO Martin McAdam said in a news release the company was also looking for new shareholders to bring additional finance and technical expertise to the business in future rounds of finance-raising.

"Our goal is to start delivering the first pre-commercial marine energy array in Scotland in 2014."

Salmond said the aim of his Scottish National Party government was to foster "a new industrial revolution" based on renewable energy for the country.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; editing by James Jukwey)