Tidal and wave pass UK’s triple test dare

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has published a new evidence-based assessment that shows the UK’s marine energy industries can meet the government’s requirements for emerging technology support.

Illustration (Image: EMEC)

Announcing the Clean Growth Strategy in October last year, Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry set out a new ‘triple test’ for determining support for new technologies.

The tests include achieving maximum carbon reduction, showing a clear cost reduction pathway, and demonstrating that the UK can be a world-leader in a global market.

According to ORE Catapult’s report, tidal stream industry could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4 billion, including considerable exports, and support 4,000 jobs by 2030.

Assuming a 10-year lag behind tidal stream, wave energy could add a net positive contribution to the UK economy of £4 billion and support 8,100 jobs by 2040.

The report further states that 50-60% of the economic benefit is expected to be created in coastal areas with greater need for economic regeneration.

Marine energy technologies have the potential to displace natural gas generation on the grid and to reduce CO2 emissions permanently by at least 1MtCO2 per year after 2030 and at least 4MtCO2 per year after 2040, the study has found.

When it comes to cost-reduction expectations, tidal stream has the potential to significantly reduce costs from approximately £300 per MWh today to below £90 per MWh within 1GW deployment, with the possibility of further reductions with additional focus on innovation and continued reductions in cost of capital, according to the report.

Future support structure

In terms of the type of future support required, the report found that the technologies’ needs differed due to their maturity levels.

Tidal stream requires an immediate route to market via revenue support to enable volume deployment, standardization and the application of existing innovation activity, as well as ongoing research and development funding to further enhance the technology and solutions available.

Wave energy requires continued research and development funding support to achieve technology convergence and prove survivability and reliability, the report states.

Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s Research & Innovation Director, said: “The findings of our research are encouraging, with the potential for significant economic benefits to be realized from the UK marine energy resources.”

“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.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said: “The UK has led the world in developing tidal stream and wave technologies, and this report shows that marine renewables could follow the UK’s offshore wind industry in achieving significant cost reductions. What we need now, to ensure that the UK capitalises on marine energy, is a supportive framework from Government to provide certainty for investors with 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. 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.”

The report will now be passed to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as the Scottish and Welsh Governments, where it is hoped it will pave the way for greater government support, including much needed revenue support in the future.