With the announcement of some £20M in investment from the UK Government, tidal stream electricity is due to create waves across the UK.
The investment has been announced as part of the flagship renewable energy auction scheme, Contracts for Difference, and will kickstart a brand-new chapter in the UK’s tidal industry.
Contracts for Difference (CfD) contracts are allocated through a competitive auction process where the cheapest projects in each technology group are awarded contracts first, with the auction designed to ensure competitive pressure to keep costs down and protect consumers.
Renewable projects are subject to strict planning controls that afford protections to local communities and the environment, and guidance will ensure communities are engaged with and are able to benefit from renewable infrastructure in their area.
Here, we take a brief look at the history and the benefits that said investment is set to have.
Scotland has long been a pioneer for tidal technology, hosting the world’s largest tidal stream generating station, built in 2018. The latest round of investment will not only boost Scotland’s marine energy sector, but expand this across the UK – projects are currently in development in North-West Scotland, North Wales and the Southern coast of England.
The investment will give the sector the chance to develop its technology and lower its costs in a similar way to its world-leading offshore wind industry.
With the predictability of the tides, tidal energy has the potential to be a very reliable source of generation and 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.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “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’ve seen costs fall dramatically in recent years thanks to UK Government support.
The investment today 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 volatile fossil fuels.”
The UK has set forth its intentions on achieving net zero and reducing carbon emissions, and numerous green initiatives have been put forward and received funding. Tidal energy now joins that group, creating opportunities in green technology across the UK.
CEO of Renewable UK, Dan McGrail, commented: “This is a major step forward for the UK’s world-leading tidal energy industry, allowing us to ramp up the roll-out of our cutting-edge marine technologies and increase the pace of innovation in the sector to become more cost-competitive.
“Ring-fenced funding for tidal stream doesn’t just unlock private investment and secure green jobs today – it also puts us in pole position to capitalise on exports to the global market in due course. That’s why we’ve been calling for this dedicated pot of funding for tidal power.”
It’s good news for British businesses too – companies now have a chance to tender for new projects in the green technology sector.
Chair of the UK Marine Energy Council, Sue Barr, 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. The marine energy sector stretches the length and breadth of the UK – from the Isle of Wight to Orkney and Shetland.”
Winning contracts for the likes of marine energy projects will undoubtedly support SMEs for a considerable time to come and will, certainly, be welcome news for business leaders across the country.
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