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Cornwall's Wave Hub potential 'costly white elephant'

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 4:54pm 6th April 2018.

A £42million renewable energy project in Cornwall has been dubbed a potentially 'costly white elephant'.

Andrew Bristow, the boss of Seatricity, reportedly made the claims after attempts to launch the first electricity-generating device at the Wave Hub, which is based 12 miles off of Hayle.

However, the hub, an undersea 'electrical socket', has not produced a single KW in the six years it has been operating.

It was hoped the Oceanus, an energy wave converter created by Seatricity, would be able to use the site to pressurise sea water through wave action and send it back to shore, where it would pump a turbine.

However, it's reported the project was forced to end due to a lack of public investment.

Speaking to BBC Radio Cornwall, He said: "The council has inherited a legacy that's potentially a costly white elephant. It is for others to determine what will happen to it but I feel that it is money that could have been more wisely invested.

"Whether more good money must been thrown at it after all that happened as we go forward or whether we should pursue other options that do not constrain energy developers into developing their own energy solutions in what is still a sector that offers great potential, is for others to determine."

Following the claims, officials have scrambled to protect the project - with promises they are continuing to explore 'alternative technologies'.

It comes after it was taken on by Cornwall Council in April last year.

And they have now admitted the Wave Hub, which was created to test wave energy machines and has recieved EU funding, has not moved as quickly as hoped.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "Ownership of the Wavehub was transferred to Cornwall Council in April 2017.

"As part of the transfer arrangements with the Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Council received around £14 million to cover ongoing operations, support for the marine renewables sector and decommissioning costs.

"Although the Wave Energy Sector has not developed as quickly as originally hoped, the Wave Hub Ltd Team continue to explore alternative technologies.

"Cornwall is home to a number of world leading marine technology and logistics companies which continue to grow and thrive, benefitting from the growth of the marine renewables sector in the UK and beyond, and the business support, research and funding available from a variety of sources.

"The Hayle Marine Renewables Business Park, which is currently at 55% occupancy, benefits from Enterprise Zone status and provides a home for Wave Hub and companies involved in the wider marine sector."

It follows plans revealed by Australian company Carnegie to test its device in Cornwall.

The company was given £9.6m from the European Regional Development Fund - but has since pulled out.

George Eustice, MP for Camborne and Redruth and DEFRA minister, said: "This is obviously disappointing news. Cornwall has a wave resource that is second to none, however the development of technologies to successfully harness wave energy has taken longer than hoped.

"The Government has invested millions of pounds in Wave Hub to date and in the last year I have been arguing for a new system of incentives to try to support some of the pioneering companies working in this sector.

"I will be seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss these latest developments."

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