The potential of the UK’s world-leading tidal and wave power sectors is laid out in a new report, launched today (March 19).
The technology’s successes to date – including the world’s first grid-connected tidal array – are outlined in the document, which has been delivered by the UK Marine Energy Council and Scottish Renewables.
It also sets out an economic blueprint for the sectors, which remain “effectively locked out of the UK energy market”.
Sue Barr, Chair of the Marine Energy Council, told how the proposed ‘innovation power purchase agreement’ model provides a framework for small-scale tidal and wave technologies to deploy devices in UK waters, and also secures a market for the power they produce.
She said: “The UK’s tidal stream sector has achieved phenomenal results to date, with 10MW of operational capacity already deployed in our seas, proving the technology whilst providing economic and environmental benefits from Cornwall to Orkney. Our wave sector is not far behind.
“However despite our world lead in these technologies, both tidal stream and wave power are effectively locked out of the UK energy market by a system which means they must compete with proven technologies, such as fixed offshore wind, which have achieved significant cost reductions having been granted a market mechanism by government.
“If we as a country really want to reap the benefits of building these sectors in the UK, now is the time to act.
“The industry has come together to deliver these recommendations to government, offering a sensible plan to scale-up the development of both tidal stream and wave power in the UK, and we look forward to working with them on these proposals over the coming months.”
Scottish Renewables Chief Executive Claire Mack said: “Scotland’s remarkable marine energy resource has placed us front and centre in developing this industry with global potential, so we are pleased to have supported this report setting out this industry’s clear recommendations to government.
“Despite a series of challenges facing the sector our members continue to break records, progress development and, as this new report sets out, deliver benefits to rural communities.
“Getting the development pathway for these technologies right means being able to increase the benefits the sector delivers, help balance our energy system and export more of our knowledge abroad – as well as cutting the costs of these innovative technologies.”
Barnaby Wharton, Head of Policy and Regulation at RenewableUK, said: “The UK is a global leader in innovative marine energy projects, building up a new industry which is bringing economic benefits around the country, especially in coastal areas.
“We are already capitalising on our success by exporting our expertise in wave and tidal power around the world to countries including China, Indonesia, Canada, Peru and Australia.
“This report makes a strong case for Government to establish a route to market for this ground-breaking technology using incentives such as tax rebates for companies which sign power purchase agreements with marine power projects.
“The more generators the industry gets in the water, the more opportunities they have to learn how to increase their efficiency and reduce costs. We’re confident that, in time, this industry will be cost-competitive with other forms of mainstream low-carbon generation. As we go down that path, investment will increase and exports will continue to grow.”
David Jones, Project Director at Marine Energy Wales, also lent the organisation’s support to the report, saying: “Wales, along with the devolved nations and regions, see marine energy as a critical low-carbon opportunity that is providing positive economic impact in rural coastal economies.”