The UK Government is to invest in ‘Tidal Stream’ electricity as part of its ‘renewable energy auction scheme’, kickstarting a new chapter for the tidal industry, creating jobs throughout the UK, and unlocking the potential for a thriving UK tidal power sector — along with ‘a cash boost supporting marine technologies that could benefit the whole of the UK’.
As part of the fourth allocation round of the ‘Contracts for Difference Scheme’ that opened last month, the Government will ensure that £20 million per year will be ‘ringfenced’ for tidal-stream projects, giving the marine energy sector a chance to develop their technology and lower their costs in a similar way to the UK’s offshore wind industry. This will bring the total funding for this allocation round to £285 million per year.
The Government says history has illustrated the effectiveness of the scheme’s design in keeping costs down: between the first allocation round in 2015 and the most recent round in 2019, the price per unit (MWh) of offshore wind fell by around 65%.
“Over time, marine technologies have the potential to significantly contribute to our decarbonisation commitments and could support hundreds of green jobs across the country, with projects currently in development in North-West Scotland, North Wales and the Southern coast of England.
“Tidal energy has the potential to be a very reliable source of generation, given the ‘clockwork predictability’ of the tides. Including this in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix will make it easier to match supply with demand, building on the UK Government’s commitment to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.” Clean marine energy
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “As an island nation we are perfectly placed to capitalise on clean marine energy, building on our booming offshore wind sector, which is now a British industrial success story. We hope to see marine energy follow in the successful footprints of other renewable technologies, where we have seen costs fall dramatically in recent years thanks to UK Government support.
“This latest investment provides a major push for tidal power to become a key part of the next generation of renewable electricity projects needed to strengthen energy security as we work to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.”
Sue Barr, chairman of the UK Marine Energy Council, said: “The impact of this support cannot be overstated. Here in the UK we have the knowledge, skills, people and projects to lead the world in marine energy, but we have been missing a vital piece of the puzzle to unlock investment and allow the sector to scale up and deliver.
“This dedicated ringfence will secure our domestic market, support decarbonisation and enable tidal-stream energy to develop — delivering export opportunities, green jobs, and economic growth in the process.”