Turning Tides? Marine Energy in the UK
Earlier this month we covered the topics of tidal and marine power and their outlook for the years to come. Summarizing, the marine environment can supply energy in three main forms: tidal stream, wave, and tidal barrage. All of these were said to hold significant potential, but it seems that other renewable energy technologies are progressing faster, able to show successful results and becoming popular investments.
But with some of the world’s best available tidal and wave resources at its gate, the United Kingdom isn’t too quick in dismissing tidal energy as a resource. Although marine technology must secure cost reductions in order to facilitate large-scale deployment and with tidal energy currently being cheaper than wave.
Tidal stream energy can play a significant role in the UK’s future energy mix and has the potential to compete with other low carbon energy sources on cost. However, the UK’s marine energy sector should aim to halve its costs by end of this decade, according to a plan released by the Energy Technologies Institute and the UK Energy Research Centre. Innovation needs to be prioritized to support installation and recovery demonstration. By doing this the industry will significantly reduce marine energy costs, enabling the UK to take advantage of its wave and tidal resource.
Tidal stream energy has the potential to compete with other low carbon sources, given the fact that it is reliable, and predictable and offers an opportunity to create jobs and economic benefits. But reducing the cost of energy generated by 50-75% to around £100/MWh until 2025 to compete with offshore wind and other technologies is an ambitious goal and only possible with significant innovation.
The UK leads the rest of the world in the development of tidal devices. Many multinational corporations such as Alstom, Andritz, and Atlantis are investing in UK based manufacturing operations, engineering as well as research and overall the UK saw a 25% rise in renewable energy investments last year.
Concluding; marine energy could make a meaningful contribution to the UK energy mix from around 2025. According to TINA (a collaborative effort of the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group (LCICG)), innovations in marine energy could save the UK’s energy system c.£3 – 8bn1 and help create a UK industry that could contribute an estimated £1 – 4bn to GDP up to 2050.