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Wales’s first tidal stream energy site welcomed by First Minister

(L-R) Gerallt Llewelyn Jones; Dafydd Gruffydd; Mark Drakeford; Llinos Medi

The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford officially opens the substation linked to Morlais tidal energy on Anglesey this week. The event, which is the culmination of more than ten years’ work, marks not only a significant milestone for the project itself but for the tidal energy sector in Wales.

As part of this week’s Ireland Wales Forum, the First Minister will host the Irish Tánaiste, Micheál Martin TD (Deputy Prime Minister) and showcase the Morlais project as a key tidal stream development in Wales.

Morlais, off the west coast of Holy Island is the largest consented tidal energy scheme in the UK. It is manged by Anglesey-based social enterprise, Menter Môn, who secured the Crown Estate lease for the 35KM2 zone of seabed in 2014. Since then, and having secured consent in 2021, work has been ongoing to put onshore infrastructure in place. The first tidal energy devices are expected to be deployed at sea in 2026.

The First Minister said: “Morlais is a groundbreaking project and a key part of our transition to a low carbon economy. It is an example of the type of development that will help Wales reach our net zero targets and underlines the importance of investing in clean energy infrastructure for our future generations.”

Once operational the site has potential to generate up to 240MW of low carbon electricity. It is seen as a unique model within the sector – rather than producing electricity itself, Morlais will provide developers of tidal energy devices with the consent and infrastructure they need to supply electricity to the grid. Five developers have already agreed connection within the scheme and discussions with an additional five are at an advanced stage.

Gerallt Llewelyn Jones is a director with Morlais and has been at the heart of the project since its inception. He explains: “This is a huge day for us. We have faced many challenges along the way, but thanks to the determination of the team and support from partners and funders we can now look forward to the next phase in the scheme’s development.

“As a Menter Môn project, Morlais is rooted in our local community and the broader economic landscape. From day one we’ve been committed to advancing a more sustainable and renewable energy future and today’s achievement reflects our team’s dedication. I’m excited to see our efforts come to fruition as we get closer to generating electricity off the coast of Anglesey.”

Councillor Llinos Medi is Leader of the Isle of Anglesey County Council, Portfolio Holder Economic Development and Lead Member for the Low Carbon Energy Programme on the North Wales Ambition Board.

Speaking at the event she said: “The County Council has been supportive of the Morlais project from its inception. The project, once operational, will ensure that the island leads the way in terms of tidal energy contributing to national net zero targets. It will also continue to provide significant local and regional economic benefits by creating jobs, enhancing skills and supply chain opportunities.  It is also important to recognise that the Morlais project will be re-investing profits into those local communities that are accommodating the development.”

In line with the Menter Môn commitment to secure benefit to the north Wales economy, Ruthin-based Jones Bros Civil Engineering has been responsible for the construction of the substation officially opened by the First Minister. Working with other local companies, they also undertook the cabling work, connecting the scheme to the national grid.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development fund through the Welsh Government.  The Isle of Anglesey County Council, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and North Wales Growth Deal have also supported the project.