The UK is currently the undisputed global leader in marine energy, with more wave and tidal stream devices installed than the rest of the world combined.
This leading position is built on an established marine engineering heritage. The UK has created ground-breaking testing facilities, and the best marine energy resource in Europe. Wave and tidal energy combined has the potential to deliver around 20 per cent of the UK’s current electricity needs which equates to an installed capacity of around 30 – 50GW. [Reference: DECC https://www.gov.uk/wave-and-tidal-energy-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix]
Commercial viability is just around the corner and the UK is well placed to capture a significant share of the global market, forecast to be worth £50 billion by 2050.
Recent focus has been on proving the technology works and reducing costs through the operation of demonstration devices. The UK is now set to lead the world into the next phase by installing the first wave and tidal energy farms, known as arrays – a complex engineering challenge.
While the current installed capacity is fairly modest at almost 9 megawatts (MW), the industry is on track to deliver over 120MW by 2020 – making a meaningful contribution to the UK’s energy mix.
Wave and tidal stream energy technology will help decarbonise our energy supply; increase energy security and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.It is set to employ 20,000 people from 2035 and contribute towards continued economic prosperity as we export our skills, services and products.
The Crown Estate, in collaboration with industry, have developed a portal to all existing wave and tidal resources. The Knowledge Network facilitates the exchange of data in the emerging wave and tidal energy industry and contains many resources on a range of relevant topics, including reports and datasets that can be downloaded for free.
It is essential that the wave and tidal energy industry understands its impacts on the marine environment and methods for minimising or mitigating them. RenewableUK has been working with Scottish Renewables and The Natural Environment Research council and Scottish Renewables to consolidate existing knowledge through the development of a series of position papers. Developed in collaboration with industrial stakeholders, key consenting bodies, NGOs and regulators, the series of position papers provide a summary of key research and evidence as well as making a series of recommendations that will help steer further work.