Britain's first marine energy park will be developed in the south west of the country, in a bid to speed up the commercial expansion of the wave and tidal industry from 2020, the government said on Monday.

Over the past seven years, over 100 million pounds have been invested in the south west marine energy industry.

The park will stretch from Bristol to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The first commercial wave farms of 10 to 30 megawatts (MW) will be located off the north Cornish coast.

From 2018, larger wave farms of 100 MW or more could be put in deeper water, a document by developers Regen SW showed.

The Isles of Scilly have the potential to provide the islands with self-sufficient energy or export back to the mainland.

A report by the Offshore Renewables Resource Assessment and Development project estimates that over 1,240 MW of wave energy projects could be developed by 2030.

This figure could be considerably higher if wave energy technology is successful in driving down costs to become competitive with offshore wind and to make it economically viable to exploit resources greater than 50 km from shore, the document said.

The government said wave or tidal energy has the potential to generate up to 27 gigawatts of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to eight coal-fired power stations.

Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible 15 billion pounds to the economy to 2050, said Greg Barker, energy and climate minister.

Last year, the government said it planned to double financial support for wave and tidal stream technologies.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Keiron Henderson)