The UK government says that the creation of a marine energy ‘park’ in the north of Scotland will help to speed up the progress of marine renewable energy development.

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters have been assigned the special status in order to heighten the international profile of the region and its reputation as a world leader in marine energy, says the government.

The move is part of plans to develop 27 GW of tidal and wave power capacity in the UK by 2050.

“It’s great to see Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters confirm their place on the marine power map with the launch of the second of the coalition government’s UK Marine Energy Parks,” said energy and climate change minister Greg Barker. “The UK is already a world leader in wave and tidal power and we need to really capitalise on this to ensure energy from marine reaches its full potential in our future energy mix.”

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park will incorporate the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), which attracts developers from across the world and where testing of a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices is already under way. The creation of the marine energy park has been welcomed by the industry.

“The UK and Scottish governments have both offered tremendous support to this industry in its first decade,” said Martin McAdam, CEO of Aquamarine Power. “We are now starting to find our feet and the new Marine Energy Park will help us continue to raise our profile, harness the commitment of a broad range of partners and take our next steps towards commercialisation.”

McAdam also said that new ways to encourage investment within the park would be needed to help it capitalize on its new status.

In January 2012 the South West of England was the first region to be awarded Marine Energy Park status.