Wed. Dec 1st, 2021


The British government has set aside £ 20 million a year in segregated support for tidal power projects, which are a lifeline for developers of technology that is seen as a stable future source of green electricity.

Developers have warned that the government’s continued refusal to fund tidal power in a major renewable energy auction next month could be fatal to the UK’s hopes of leading in the emerging marine power sector.

British companies are world leaders in tidal power development, with the waters around Orkney in Scotland home to both the world’s first commercial seabed-mounted turbine array and its largest individual turbine.

But the sector has struggled to get funding as it competes with much cheaper, more mature technologies, such as offshore wind at government contract auctions. Early marine power technologies also struggled with engineering challenges as devices had to withstand difficult conditions at sea.

“The investment today offers a big boost for tidal power to a key part of the next generation renewable electricity projects, ”Said Kwasi Kwarteng, British Secretary of State for Energy and Energy, in a statement on Wednesday.

The British move has followed strong lobbying by the marine energy sector and pressure in parliament in recent weeks from opposition politicians, including from the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats.

UK’s contracts for difference ‘auctions give successful bidders a guaranteed fixed price for the electricity they produce for an agreed number of years, significantly reducing the risk of projects based on relatively new technologies. The guaranteed revenue helps developers raise private funding to fund schemes.

The fenced-in £ 20 million is only a small part of the £ 285 million a year contracts that will be auctioned from 13 December. However, Gavin Smart, head of analysis at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Innovation Center, said it would “kick in” the UK tide in a global sector with enormous potential.

Neil Kermode
Neil Kermode, managing director of European Marine Energy Center, said the announcement was a great relief for the sector © Petros Gioumpasis

“I’m sure a lot in and around the industry will be hoping for a bigger budget, but that’s £ 20 million more than was available yesterday!” Smart wrote in a blog posting.

Neil Kermode of the European Marine Energy Center in Orkney, a focus of tidal power technology development, said the announcement was a great relief to the sector. “I’m absolutely sure we will show it works and it will give the government the confidence to do more in the future,” Kermode said.

Compared to intermittent wind and solar power, tidal power provides what the British government called the “clockwork predictability of the tides”.

“Including it in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix will make it easier to match supply with demand,” he said.

But while there are a large number of potential areas for tidal power around the world, developers still need to find cheaper ways to meet the technical challenges of tapping powerful streams in often challenging marine environments.

Orbital, which developed a 2MW tidal power machine, the world’s most powerful, said the decision “validated” the UK market for tidal power.

“We have long asked for this kind of segregated funding to develop this important technology and to build a home-grown industry around it,” said Andrew Scott. Orbital CEO.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy, developer of the MeyGen tidal power project in the Pentland Firth between Orkney and the Scottish mainland, said earlier this month that a “route to market” was all that was needed to deploy a further 80 MW there.



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