MP's push Marine Energy
The Energy and Climate Change Commons Select Committee warn that the UK must not loose initiative in the development of wave and tidal power.
In their report “The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK” published last week, Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"Britannia really could rule the waves when it comes to marine renewable energy.
We are extremely well placed to lead the world in wave and tidal technologies, which could potentially bring significant benefits in manufacturing and jobs, as well an abundant supply of reliable low-carbon electricity.
A more visionary approach from the Department of Energy and Climate Change could help to boost confidence and drive the pace of development."
With the best tidal and wave resources in Europe, a potential 20% of the UK's energy supply, it's hardly surprising that the UK is currently the world leader in the development of wave and tidal energy technologies. Of the eight full-scale prototype devices installed worldwide, seven are in the UK. The report warns, however, that an overly cautious approach to developing this sector may allow other less risk-averse countries to steal the UK's lead.
Tim Yeo again:
"In the eighties the UK squandered the lead it had in wind power development and now Denmark has a large share of the worldwide market in turbine manufacturing”
Although wave power is currently 4 times more expensive than power from onshore wind (as yet we have no figures for tide stream turbines) costs are expected to fall and be competitive by 2020. It is estimated that by 2050.the industry could be worth £340bn worldwide, with Britain potentially able to claim a £76bn share with the creation of 68,000 jobs. Marine power is less variable from hour to hour than wind or solar and can be forecast days in advance. There is also a good match between periods of high production and seasonal electricity demand.
The committee's report coincided with another major development for marine energy. A little-heralded by-product of last weeks Anglo-French energy summit in Paris, dominated by nuclear co-operation, were two agreements that could make tiny channel island, Alderney, a major tidal power hub.
Alderney Renewable Energy (ARE) signed an agreement with French industrial group DCNS to build tidal arrays in the island’s waters, with Irish company Open Hydro a strong contender to provide the technology to exploit a potential 4 GW of tidal power.
Open Hydro have just successfully trialled a 2mw turbine off the coast of Brittany with the EDF that's performed “better than expected” according to French Press reports. A separate deal involving ARE Transmission Capital (TCL) and French grid operator RTE will work towards development of a power interconnector linking the UK, Alderney and France.
A joint declaration from the governments says the two deals “are major steps towards the realisation of a significant new renewable energy project, which could rank among the largest tidal stream energy deployments worldwide”.
Images: DCNS/Open Hydro