UK ocean energy gets a profile of 2017 activities

The Policy and Innovation Group at the University of Edinburgh has released a report summarizing the developments in the wave and tidal sector throughout 2017 in the United Kingdom.

The Penguin wave energy device at EMEC (Photo: Wello)

The report, titled UK Ocean Energy Review 2017, provides an overview of UK’s key marine energy sector achievements, supporting policies for ocean energy, research and development and technology demonstration.

According to the paper, significant steps towards commercialization have taken place with the completion of the first phase of two tidal stream arrays – namely the 6MW phase 1A of Atlantis Resources’ MeyGen project in Scotland’s Pentland Firth, and the 300kW phase 1 of the Nova Innovation Shetland Tidal Array project.

The installation of the Scotrenewables SR2000 2MW floating tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in March 2017 has helped to contribute to a year of record tidal energy output in the UK – with Scotrenewables production surpassing 1.3GWh in 2017 in addition to production from the MeyGen Array surpassing 2.6GWh by October 2017, the report states.

In terms of wave energy development, the paper reports about ‘good progress’ made on structured innovation – listing the CEFOW project which installed the first 500kW device in a planned array of three Wello Penguin wave energy converters at EMEC in 2017 as an example.

Nova Innovation’s tidal turbine for Shetland Tidal Array (Photo: ORE Catapult)

Continuing with the overview of the last year’s activities, the report mentions the Clean Energy Strategy published by the Scottish government in December 2017, which sets out key targets of the equivalent of 50% of the energy from Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied by renewable sources by 2030 – an increase by 30% in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy by 2030.

The Scottish government continues to champion the wave and tidal sector and fund Wave Energy Scotland (WES), which has committed over £24 million to 61 separate research projects since its inception in 2014, according to the report.

During 2017, WES awarded a total of £11 million to 20 wave energy research projects through its Power Take off, Control Systems, Structural Materials and Manufacturing Process and Novel Wave Energy Converter programs.

The Welsh Government also set a renewable energy target in 2017 to generate 70% of Welsh electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2030.

Looking towards the future, the report notes the FORESEA and MaRINET 2 calls which have resulted in many new planned wave and tidal device deployments for testing at EMEC.

Future planned commercial developments include the Fairhead tidal array in NI, scheduled to begin construction of the 10MW first phase in 2018, and the extensions of the MeyGen Array and the Shetland Tidal Array through the MeyGen 1B and EnFait projects

However, the UK ocean energy sector is still awaiting clear market signals from the UK government.

Under the current CfD auction structure wave and tidal projects have to compete directly with offshore wind, without any additional funds ring-fenced, the report concludes.