Kate Mackenzie Marine energy scores manufacturer interest

The big renewable news in the UK today is Mitsubishi’s decision to build a  £100m offshore wind turbine R&D facility.

Much smaller, though just as interesting, is news that Siemens is among the second-round investors in Marine Current Turbines.

It’s unusual to see a big manufacturer like Siemens putting money (albeit a small amount – the total funds raised in this round were  £8.5m) in a fairly nascent renewable technology.

MCT operates the only commercial marine energy installation that is not a tidal barrage.

The UK is something of a hub for marine energy and a few utilities, such as Scottish & Southern, have invested in marine start-ups or collaborated on projects. Other investors in MCT include EDF Energy and Carbon Trust.

Marine energy is still relatively small – again, excepting tidal barrages, which boast a few sizeable installations: France’s 240MW La Rance is most notable, and the UK will decide this year on a massive barrage across the Severn. But New Energy Finance told us several months ago that the total spend on marine energy was $253m in 2007 and $79m in 2008 – and 2009 wasn’t looking any better.

Still, there’s an awful lot of energy in waves, tides and currents – if it can be tapped economically.

Related links:

A mixed week for embryonic marine industry (FT Energy Source)