EMEC sets forth ‘key’ goals for UK ocean energy growth ahead of 2024 general election

The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has outlined a set of manifesto asks for the July 4, 2024, general election to unlock green growth opportunities in ocean energy arenas in the UK waters.

Source: EMEC; Credits: Colin Keldie

Over the last 20 years, EMEC has tested pre-commercial technologies in challenging conditions. An economic impact assessment of EMEC’s two decades of operations values its impact on the UK economy at £370 million, an eight-fold return on public funding.

The manifesto asks, which European Marine Energy Centre described as “key” ones, have been designed to cover areas enabling Britain to unleash its full renewable and marine energy potential, lending a helping hand on the UK’s journey to net zero. The steps the country should take to strengthen its energy security and bolster its sustainability efforts entail: 

  • Wave and Tidal Energy Innovation Support: Britain’s wave and tidal energy technology, with over 80% UK project content, is estimated to contribute £41 billion gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy by 2050, offering energy security and economic benefits. 
  • Develop a National Floating Wind Test Centre in the UK: EMEC has come up with plans for an £88 million national floating wind test site west of Orkney, creating 4,160 jobs and adding £690 million to the UK economy in the process. This is in line with the target of deploying over 23 GW of floating wind in Scottish waters over the next two decades. 

EMEC highlights that it supports industry asks through the UK Marine Energy Council. In light of this, the European Marine Energy Centre points out that the government needs to commit to ensuring continuity of innovation support to capture energy security, economic, and system benefits in the absence of access to EU funding streams.

Setting a 2035 deployment target of 1 GW for tidal stream energy, and 300 MW for wave energy is expected to help secure the UK’s lead in ocean energy by accelerating the transition from prototype demonstration to array deployments.

Additionally, maintaining and creating clear revenue support and other routes to market for wave and tidal energy is seen as important by EMEC, which believes that investment in early array deployment sites is needed along with the creation of a strategic task force to realize the potential for ocean energy in Great Britain.

“Having a national test centre for wave and tidal energy has established the UK as a world leader in the field whilst delivering significant value to the UK economy through the development of jobs, supply chain and export opportunities. This would not have been possible without the foresight and initial investment by government,” said Neil Kermode, EMEC managing director.

“The necessity to find solutions to climate change and transition to a net zero future has, quite literally, been heating up, and the UK is well placed yet again to lead the world in this endeavour. However, to fully realise the UK’s offshore energy ambitions, we need consistent structured support for the wave and tidal energy sector to enable it to progress to array demonstrations and a dedicated test centre for floating wind is needed to truly test and prove those technologies in the conditions in which they are earmarked to be deployed.”

The UK Government recently awarded a new £4.6 million support package for the UK’s islands, £3 million of which will be awarded to the Orkney-based EMEC over two years.

The funding boost will support EMEC’s growth plans, further helping the center deliver the UK’s net zero ambitions, increase innovation and investment in research and development, and drive the leveling up agenda and green growth in island communities.

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