The aim of Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC) is to make clean, renewable energy for the Isle of Wight and to support the development of the tidal energy sector. The tidal centre will have an element both offshore and onshore. PTEC was issued with an Agreement for Lease by the Crown Estate in November 2012. This contains an option which enables PTEC to enter into a 20-year lease. Applications for consent for the PTEC project are scheduled for submission towards the end of 2014. If consent is granted, then construction is scheduled to start during 2015/2016 and should last no longer than 12 months. Once construction is completed, the facility will be commissioned and operational during 2016/2017.
It is known that oil exists in the rock strata beneath the Solent, but the reserves are understood not to be commercially viable at the present time. Oil is vested in the Crown, and only those companies granted a licence through the Department of Energy and Climate Change have the right to carry out exploration and production. There are two systems of licensing for oil exploration: one for onshore, including 'bay closing areas' (such as the Solent and Southampton Water) and one for offshore.
In 1984, Shell UK Ltd was awarded a licence to search for oil and gas in the Solent. The company carried out seismic surveys and a series of environmental studies. They concluded that oil was not available in commercial quantities and the environmental constraints on exploration were too great. Two further licences have been issued in the western Solent to Brabant, and Elf Enterprise was granted licences to the west of the Isle of Wight. No progress has been made with these beyond seismic exploration and test drilling.
In the future, the marine area will provide an increasing proportion of the UK‘s energy needs from offshore renewable sources of generation – wind, wave and tidal. It will also need to support the expansion of offshore electricity networks to connect these to shore.
There are currently no offshore wind, wave or tidal power farms around the Solent, however in January 2010, the Crown Estate awarded the energy company Eneco a 280 square mile area of the seabed to explore the most suitable place to locate a wind park with an approximate capacity of at least 900MW. Over the past year, Eneco has been appraising the area and has concluded that a project of between 900MW and 1200MW of capacity could be located in the northern part of the awarded area, a site which covers 76 square miles. The porposed wind farm is to be known as Navitus Bay Wind Park.
From 1 April 2010, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for licensing of offshore energy generating installations including wind farms, wave and tidal devices between 1 and 100 megawatts. Wind farms generating more than 100 megawatts will be licensed by the National Infrastructure Planning unit.