Climate Action

Marine energy race could land billions for the UK economy

Marine renewables could provide major economic benefits to the UK, while generating low-carbon power at low cost, according to a new report.

  • 03 May 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

Marine renewables could provide major economic benefits to the UK, while generating low-carbon power at low cost, according to a new report.

Tidal stream energy alone could contribute £1.4 billion to the UK by 2030, and create 4,000 jobs.

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, a research centre in the UK, analysed data from marine companies and projected possible cost reductions within the industry.

They modelled cost reductions within the tidal industry in part on the offshore wind industry, which has seen significant falls in price in recent years.

The researchers found that with high levels of new tidal projects coming online, up to 1000 megawatts (MW), could cut the cost of capital by 7 percent. Additional savings could be made with increased experience at sea and new innovations to the point where tidal is below £90 per megawatt hour (MWh). It current stands at approximately £300/MWh.

In total, building out 100MW of new tidal projects every year from 2021 could contribute £1.4 billion to the UK economy with significant export potential around the world.

At the moment, the UK has only 10MW of operational tidal stream, and a large part of this is taken up by one project. However, over 1,000MW has already been leased with another 1,000 identified as having potential.

Wave energy, which is currently at an earlier stage of development than tidal, could create £4 billion and 8,000 jobs, albeit on a longer time period out to 2040.

As marine energy harnesses the ocean’s natural power, it is a reliable and clean source of power. The research reiterates these carbon credentials, stating their potential “to displace coal and natural gas generation on the grid”, and reduce emissions permanently by at least 1 metric tonne per year after 2030.

Hugh McNeal, chief executive of marine energy trade body RenewableUK, said that “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.”

He also urged the government not to let the UK’s current lead in marine energy “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,” he added.


Photo Credit: Atlantis Resources