Wave Power As Important As Park House Or Infrastructure Says Chief Exec

town hall 4Wave and solar power could diversify Scilly’s economy, raise locals’ aspirations and offer new, year-round tourism.

That’s the vision of senior Council management shared at last Thursday’s public meeting at the Old Wesleyan Chapel.

Chief Executive Theo Leijser says locals could secure a new future from the opportunity of managing and exporting renewable energy.

This isn’t a new idea. In 2009, former Council CEO Philip Hygate announced discussions with two wave power generating companies who wanted to install test units off Scilly, with the aim of producing cheap power, cutting our bills and reducing reliance on energy from the mainland.

Mr Hygate said the scheme could do for Scilly what oil had done for Shetland.

Now six years later, Council Officer Diana Mompoloki says that the technology is, “almost there.” Offshore power generators would need to sit in at least 50 feet of water to harness the ocean power.

When questioned over visual impact, Diana explained that it would be difficult to assess that, because the appearance would depend on the technology employed. But from a distance, the units would probably resemble yellow buoys, she said.

They’d work best in the winter waves and in the summer, solar gardens could generate power.

Diana says that a site above the Chaplaincy and the Old Secondary School has been identified as a prime location for a solar farm. There’s more planned, and they’ll also be tucked away.

Theo told the meeting that an energy hub is attractive because the islands are a ‘closed unit,’ which is perfect for monitoring smart grid technology. That’s a computer system designed to intelligently respond to consumer electricity demand and manage the supply efficiently.

Scilly could become a “living laboratory,” he said, which marries power production with supply.

He confirmed that “big players” are “sniffing around” Scilly to see how they can engage with the islands. Japanese multinational Hitachi was mentioned in a Council meeting as being interested in investing in the islands.

Although this project aims to diversify away from a reliance on tourism, Diana says the wave power or solar farms would attract tourists. And Theo feels that the schemes could create a year round stream of businesspeople and research staff who would support the transport system outside the peak season.

Mr Leijser feels that that some locals like this plan, highlighted in the Island Futures report, some residents believe the plan is “scary” and some think it is wrong. But he says the “broad consensus” is that the “direction of travel“ is right for the islands.

He says that this economic plan is a core project for the Council and is of equal standing with Park House or infrastructure.

In the meeting some locals questioned how the Authority would control and manage the commercial interests of powerful companies.

Diana said the final say on wave power wouldn’t be the Council’s. It would come from the Crown Estate and the Marine Management Organisation.

Some schemes would fall under the Council committees, others might be driven through a third party – an ‘arms length’ body. A group of Council partners have already set one up.

Cllr Steve Sims reminded attendees that locals currently have no influence on major power companies’ policies. But Steve reckons if a relationship was formed with potential players now, the Council would be “in the loop” and would have some influence.

He warned that if the Council objected to these ideas, those businesses could appeal to the Secretary of State, who could overturn it, leaving the Council without a say on their future plans.

Mark Prebble wondered whether this project was sustainable as he felt Council officers were driving it, not the community. Theo replied that locals had elected their councillors and that they had backed this plan.

There’s no clear timeline for the projects but the Chief Executive said they could be active by 2017. Diana advised that it would take at least two years to establish permission for a marine energy park.

17 Responses to Wave Power As Important As Park House Or Infrastructure Says Chief Exec

  1. Jonny Exile July 2, 2015 at 8:45 am

    I’m guessing it’s pointless asking Leijser for even the vaguest indication of how much he thinks all of this going to cost taxpayers or even roughly how much he’s already spent.

  2. Visitor July 1, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I agree with the Council’s CEO but a word of caution. Not a million miles away is the wave hub off Hayle. Designed to attract the testing of prototypes it’s not a fantastic success at present. I would advise working with them, UoP, and RegenSW for some form of reference before signing up to any particular method of wave hub technology that might not be as well proven. They may also help provide assistance if the Council produces any future strategy on other renewables such as solar PV (and dare I say it, wind). Of course your current waste problems could also be reduced in considering energy from waste systems. I would wait to see the outcomes of EfW plants at St. Dennis or Plymouth first. Plenty for debate there then!

  3. Brian Rix June 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Exporting energy, what could possibly go wrong?
    A simple project which won’t be effected by adverse weather conditions, the HV cable won’t be in situ to cause problems, the Linguist won’t need to be consulted about monies because she never remembers figures, the project manager has a truly stunning record of bringing things in on budget and the CEO has achieved so much already…..go for it, you know that it makes sense!

  4. Linguine June 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    What is this guy on? Is he blind to the fumbling and crumbling that is evident to so many both inside what can only be loosely described as his “organisation” as well as to the most casual of observers outside?
    Get something you are already responsible for right before you go looking your (our) next money pit !!!!!!!

  5. Cornwall72 June 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Hmmm…solar farm tourism? Wave power tourism? Where on earth is the evidence for tourists flocking to remote islands to view solar and wave power installations? Get real Ms Mompoloki.

  6. DaveH June 30, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    As an employee of a tidal turbine renewable company, my understanding is that most forms of renewable energy are still reliant upon government subsidies to make them remotely affordable, given the governments latest announcement to reduce subsidies early then the burden would fall on the council to find the money, most renewable companies want an install, operate and maintain contract, they all cost some form of millions to buy and operate.
    Further complicated by high unreliability and to date low levels of output for the investment and that is just onshore, go offshore and the cost multiply horrendously, just investigate the spot charge for a heavy lift vessel.
    This may be the future and I truly believe it will be, however let the technology mature before committing us to extremely high costs for relatively low return.
    Perhaps instead of yet again going alone we can work with Cornwall and benefit from the larger scale generating capacity of whatever they take forward.

  7. Kevin June 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    My god, these bumbling, useless, expensive chattering class wannabees are everywhere running councils into the ground, we have a set in Peterborough, and demanding ever increasing pay because “If we want the best we have to pay the most”. The best what? Total and complete fiascoes it would appear.

  8. Adam Morton, St.Martins June 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t think this is intended to help the local population at all. The schemes will require massive investment far beyond local means. Consequently any returns would only benefit the multinational companies that made the investments. The only difference to us is the loss of some fishing grounds!
    A 4 kw PV array now costs as little as 5k and could provide a significant reduction in household daytime summer usage. Those without space could invest in larger installations like the proposed one on St.Martins, however this can’t be done until western power upgrade the grid. I can’t see who is going to encourage them to do this?
    This will only cut the bills of those who make the investment, it certainly isn’t cheaper, you just prepay some of your bill several years in advance if you can afford to do so!
    The only things that produce a lot of power relatively cheaply is land based wind turbines! As soon as you get into the realms of offshore power and submarine cables it becomes unaffordable.
    The Council no doubt think that they could achieve a levy on power exported in the same way shetland does on oil , to spend on infrastructure. However that is on oil and likely to be negligible on an industry that is seeing big reductions in incentives under this government!
    Probably the most sensible thing would be to put up a big field of PV panels and run the desalination plant off them when demand peaks in summer! It will be virtually impossible to produce energy all the time so a cable or generator would still have to supplement it . Sounds like a Council restructuring scheme , supposed to save money but in reality costs twice what it did before!
    The only economic use it’s going to be is if people are allowed to do what they do in Scotland and buy a 60k turbine and get 6-10k back each year or an equivalent PV site instead of putting up a chalet. Failing that a levy that subsidised actual transport subsidy which the Council has so far shown zero commitment to.To get the economy of scale we would need a lot bigger harbour facilities than the tiny, ludicrously expensive quay extension the LA has currently sanctioned!

    • Village Elder July 1, 2015 at 11:11 am

      Of course it would benefit the local people.

      -Cheaper energy
      -More jobs directly involved
      -More jobs indirectly through hospitality of associates, especially in Winter
      -Potentially better transport links in Winter, Hitachi would likely look into transport links if it continually curtailed visits or productivity

      Just the tip of the iceberg potentially.

      But you can sit on your arse and believe things are going to get better, or you can get behind projects like this and hope for the best.

      I prefer blind optimism to blind pessimism.

      • Adam Morton, St.Martins July 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        Village ****-How pray is the energy cheaper? you pay for it through your provider as now.
        More jobs? Exactly doing what?
        Better transport ? what a complete load of B*******
        This is just a scheme for officials to go off on little jollies . Get real, international companies are in it for one thing and it ain’t our welfare. We are not a unique location, all this R& D has already been done on the Scottish islands. As ever you are years too late jumping on a bandwagon that doesn’t exist any more. The Conservative government has just withdrawn support from such schemes.
        Perhaps if you used your name we could know with what authority you think you speak but you haven’t got the balls have you?
        Blind optimism has got us precisely nowhere. It requires confidence in a qualified leadership and they don’t have qualifications in anything except applying for grants! A tiny % of the capital spent on Council projects remains in the islands and the projects themselves contribute next to nothing to the social or economic well being of anyone I know.

        • LINDA badcock July 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm

          Adam,I do so wish I was as eloquent as you, but you forward my views as I would have wished to be able to.

      • Linguine July 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm

        That’s the spirit Elder go on propping up an obviously incompetent and repeatedly falling team on the basis that things can only get better.
        Let’s just keep throwing resources away.
        It cannot be made to add up however you do the math!
        (Obviously I would excuse the chairman from this evaluation as it is beyond her remit to do adding up or taking away sums, just too hard!)

  9. High Lanes Drifter June 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Please God no!
    Having c___ked up the costs of every project on land we are now contemplating sending her out to sea where the scope for loosing money is infinitely greater!
    The CEO needs to get to grips with the needs of the community or give up and let the next person try.
    This self selected group who are running rings around the rest of our councillors and running this shambolic authority need to be held to account.
    This is what comes of having an inadequate chairman, moreover it seems that there is no point in asking her to figure it out for herself because she is only a linguist, I suspect many voters are aghast at what is being done in their name.

    • Ian T. June 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Wave power be it a ‘wave hub’ or some form of tidal flow system, is the most sensible and reliable system to generate power for the UK as a whole. However, solar generation good as it is and would be particularly effective in Scilly, should not be sited on any open ground on Scilly – there are no suitable sites in such a small undulating area and would be an eyesore.Solar panels are fine for the roofs of buildings and should be mandatory for all new builds and encouraged for existing buildings. There are large solar farms throughout Devon and Cornwall some of which are as big as the Garrison. Many are on good productive land and, even though they are screened up to a point, I don’t think anyone would wish that sort of development on Scilly.

      • Flo Ressant June 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm

        When was the last time you had to drive through Kent or Herefordshire? If you do, you will notice thousands of miles of poly-tunnel producing the strawberries that we are able to buy in the co-op early and late season. It’s an eyesore, but necessary for cheap home grown food.

        So what’s the difference between producing food and producing energy?

        No one lives on Samson. Why not cover the south side with panels? It would only take a short cable run to St Mary’s and would produce 3 times the power needed over here.

        • Ian T. July 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

          Flo, my point is that solar farms should not be on productive land and definitely not on the south side of Samson. What an eyesore that would be. Try growing your strawberries on the roof of your house. Not easy – whereas installing solar panels could be simple.

          • Flo July 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm

            Fair play to Ian T -he was right after all. I took his advice and tried growing strawberries on the roof of my house and no, it is not easy. In fact I fell of the roof and am dictating this reply to a pretty young nurse at A&E.