Report: Tidal stream energy could deliver £1.4bn boost to UK by 2030

The UK’s nascent tidal stream and wave power industries have the potential to deliver billions of pounds in economic benefits while helping to cut CO2, a new report by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has found.

The tidal stream industry alone could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4bn “including considerable exports”, the report estimates, as well as supporting up to 4,000 jobs by 2030.

And, assuming a 10-year lag behind the more developed tidal stream sector, wave energy could additionally add a net positive contribution to the UK economy of £4bn while supporting around 8,100 jobs by 2040, according to the research.

The report, which was published yesterday, argues the UK’s marine energy industries are therefore capable of passing the government’s stipulated ‘Triple Test’ for determining support for new clean energy technologies.

As established in last year’s Clean Growth Strategy, the government has said that in order to secure its support, new renewable energy technologies must show they can achieve maximum carbon reduction, show a clear cost reduction pathway, and demonstrate the UK can be a world-leader in a sizeable global market.

 Dr Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s research and innovation director, described the report’s findings as “encouraging”.

“We will now continue our work with the tidal stream and wave energy industries, as well as relevant government departments, to discuss these findings and establish the best way forward for future support that will enable the UK to capture such advantage, in terms of growing our economy, creating jobs and exporting goods and services all over the world,” he said.

It comes as the developers behind Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon continue to await a decision from the government over whether or not to give the green light to the ambitious project, more than a year after a government commission report backed the scheme.

Business minister Lord Henley told the House of Lords this week the government “will not be rushed” over a decision.

In addition to delivering economic benefits – largely in coastal areas of the UK – yesterday’s report estimates marine energy technologies have the potential to displace natural gas generation on the grid and to reduce CO2 emissions permanently by at least one million metric tonnes a year by 2030, and 4Mt a year after 2040.

Crucially, the research also highlights significant ongoing reductions in the costs of developing marine technologies as efficiencies improve. For tidal stream, for example, costs could fall from around £300 per megawatt hour today, to below £90/MWh once capacity reaches 1GW, with further cost reductions possible through further innovation.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said the UK’s marine energy industries now needed a “supportive framework” from government in order to provide certainty for investors and stable revenues.

 “Developing these technologies here in the UK will secure investment and jobs in coastal communities, rather than letting our global advantage slip away to competitors,” said McNeal. “Already, we are exporting our world-beating marine energy expertise across Europe and as far afield as China and the Americas; these are new markets with enormous scope for growth in the decades ahead.”

Responding to the report, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) highlighted the £557m it had set aide for funding clean electricity projects though the Contracts for Difference subsidy scheme.

“We are reducing emissions while minimising the cost to consumers and we always consider the costs versus benefits of any renewable technology,” BEIS said in a statement.

The report comes in the same week as Marine Hub Cornwall – which was set up to help grow the marine industry in the county – formally agreed a new collaboration with Welsh government-funded Marine Energy Wales.

The two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together “on areas of common interest and to share their knowledge and expertise”, the agencies announced.

SOURCE: Business Green