Memorandum submitted by the Department
of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions
1.1. The Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI) has responsibility for energy policy and sponsorship of
the energy industries in the UK. Its aim is to work with others
to ensure competitive energy markets while achieving safe, secure,
and sustainable energy supplies. As part of the new government
policy on sustainable energy, DTI intends to launch a new support
programme for renewables which will include wave energy as announced
by DTI in April 1999. The Department of the Environment has an
interest in environmental issues related to renewables and in
2.1. Wave energy is a potentially significant
resource if the technology can be developed to convert the naturally
occuring energy in the seas surrounding the UK into reliable and
economic useable power. Between 1974 and 1994 UK government spent
over £15 million on a programme of research and development
to characterise the resource and develop the means to exploit
it. In 1982 a review of the programme concluded the economic prospects
for wave energy were poor compared to other renewable technologies,
and that work should be reduced. The R&D programme continued
at a lower level of activity until 1994 when it was ended without
changing the conclusions of the 1982 review.
2.2. Concerns about the environmental impact
of energy production from fossil fuels, which are finite resources,
has resulted in an increased interest in renewable energy world-wide
including wave and tidal stream. Since 1982 the understanding
of wave and tidal energy has improved and a number of concepts
for exploiting these resources have been devised and are at various
stages of development world-wide. Some demonstration plants have
been constructed and deployed and are undergoing evaluation.
2.3. The UK is a leading player in the development
of wave energyit has one of only three operating shoreline
wave energy devices in the worldand is well placed to contribute
to the further development of a number of these concepts. To this
end, Government announced a new wave programme in 1999 as part
of the DTI's New and Renewable Energy Programme and five projects
are currently supported by DTI funds.
3.1. The seas surrounding the UK are a potentially
significant energy resource. Between 1974 and 1983 government
spent about £15 million on research and development in an
attempt to characterise the resource and develop techniques for
converting this naturally occurring energy into useable power.
In 1982, a strategic review of renewable technologies in the UK
concluded the economic prospects for wave energy was poor compared
to other electricity producing renewable technologies. Following
this strategic review, government accepted advice from its Advisory
Council for Research and Development for Fuel and Power (ACORD)
that work on large-scale prototypes could not be justified and
the recommendation that the programme be reduced. Research work
continued for 12 years at a lower level of activity to see if
progress could be made which might justify large-scale work at
some future date. This programme finally ended in 1994 without
sustantially changing ACORD's conclusions.
3.2. The 1989 Electricity Act which led
to the privatisation of the UK's electricity supply industry in
1990-91 also resulted in the establishment of a non-fossil fuel
obligation (NFFO) to support nuclear and renewable generation
through a levy on electricity sales. Renewable generation received
support in England and Wales under NFFO and in Scotland under
the Scottish Renewables Order (SRO). NFFO and SRO were successful
in stimulating interest in renewables and altogether 933 contracts
were awarded under five NFFO and three SRO rounds. Wave energy
was not included in these renewables orders until the last round
of the SRO. Three of the successful SRO contracts were for wave
energy devices and, to date, only one has successfully been constructed
and commissioned (on Islay off the west coast of Scotland during
the autumn of 2000).
3.3. There has been a recent significant
growth of interest in wave power around the world. In April 1999,
the DTI's Marine Foresight Panel published a report "Energies
from the SeaTowards 2020" which identified R&D
priorities for the development of wave and tidal stream energy.
Also in the spring of 1999, Government announced a new wave programme
as part of the DTI's New and Renewable R&D Programme. Soon
after the announcement, a call for proposals was issued which
generated five good projects for R&D on wave energy topics
and these are underway supported by DTI funds. Wave energy was
also included in the Programme's latest call for proposals and
the resulting wave energy R&D proposals are now being evaluated.
A long-term R&D strategy for the programme is being developed.
There is also growing interest in the UK in tidal stream and consideration
is being given to broadening the scope of the Programme to include
4.1. There are a number of different approaches
broadly categorised as follows;
4.1.1. Shoreline wavewhere
a plant is constructed on the shore (or cliff face) to capture
energy from incident waves. These are mostly of the Oscillating
Water Column (OWC) type in which the wave action forces a column
air through a turbine connected to an electrical generator. Approximately
eleven demonstration scale (~200kW) OWCs have been built world-wide
and tested for a limited period; several have been decommissioned
and one destroyed. Three commercial OWC schemes are currently
being built world-wide with several more in the planning stage.
4.1.2. Nearshorehere, devices
using a variety of operating principles to extract energy from
the sea are deployed in shallow coastal waters. Few devices of
this type have been successfully demonstrated and none of them
have functioned long term.
4.1.3. Deep oceanthe wave
climate has much higher energy levels in deeper seas (greater
than about 50m depth). A number of concepts have been devised
to extract this energy but only a few have been built and deployed
(none in the UK). Most are at the model testing stage.
4.1.4. Tidal streamthis extracts
energy from the ocean currents generated by the movement of tides
in channels between two landmasses in close proximity. The UK
has a number of sites of potential interest. Only one small-scale
(~20kW) prototype has been tested in UK waters (a Scottish Loch);
and this was only for a short time. Several smaller-scale,
prototype schemes have been deployed world-wide, again only in
relatively short-term tests. One larger-scale device (130kW) was
deployed in the Straits of Messina last year.
5.1. None of the wave or tidal stream concepts
has yet been demonstrated to be commercially viable nor has their
technical viability been demonstrated over any significant length
of time. The long-term commercial viability remains uncertain.
6. CURRENT PROJECTS
6.1. The "Limpet 500" OWC electricity
generator, installed on Islay in the south west Scotland. As it
was commissioned only in the autumn of 2000, its medium- to long-term
technological viability has still to be demonstrated. Limpet 500
was awarded a contract under the third round of the Scottish Renewables
Order (SRO) and receives a premium rate for its electricity to
offset high construction costs and to sell its output in competition
with other forms of electricity production.
6.2. Pelamis is a proposed system for electricity
generation using waves in moderate water depths (later it might
move to deep water), presently at the model testing stage. It
too has an SRO contract which will provide a premium rate for
its output operating.
6.3. Floating Wave Power Vessel is
a Swedish device for extracting useful energy from deep waters.
However, no commercial scale device has ever been built. It too
gained a SRO contract for development off the Shetland islands.
6.4. Tidal Current Turbine. There
are no current UK projects. There is growing interest is tidal
stream within the UK and the DTI has commissioned a study to undertake
an initial evaluation of the prospects for tidal stream.
7.1. The Government's renewables strategy
requires the energy supply industries and equipment manufacturers
to take the lead in sponsoring the development and deployment
of renewable energy technologies close to commercial viability.
This strategy comprises a package of measures including the new
Renewables Obligation on electricity suppliers to supply a specified
proportion of their power from renewable sources and the Climate
Change Levy Exemption. Government is also proposing a new capital
grants scheme for off-shore wind and biomass. For the technologies
where the prospects are still uncertain or are still a long way
from commercial viability, the Government, through the DTI's New
and Renewable Programme, is planning to introduce an expanded
support programme to aid the research and development of new technologies.
This strategy complements the more academia-led activities in
these areas, which receive funding by Engineering and Physical
Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
7.2. Current estimates suggest that wave
energy will not make a substantial contribution to electricity
generation in the UK until after 2010. The Government's priority
at present is to ensure that our target of 10 per cent electricity
generation by renewables by 2010 is met, whilst also doing the
work to develop those sources that could make a significant contribution
post-2010, including wave energy. Tidal stream is currently being
assessed by independent consultants and their advice will be taken
into account when recommending what steps, if any, are necessary
to take this technology forward under the R&D Programme.
8. RESEARCH AND
8.1. Government sponsored R&D is being
taken forward on two fronts; academic research undertaken in universities
and funded mainly by the EPSRC and, industrially led R&D funded
by DTI under its New and Renewable Energy support programme. DTI
and EPSRC work closely together in all areas of renewable energy
to ensure the programmes of work are complementary.
8.2. EPSRC presently has 10 wave energy
and tidal stream research projects in place with a total value
of just over £1.1 million.
8.3. The DTI's New and Renewable Energy
Programme presently is supporting seven wave energy projects and
one tidal stream project (total value of £1.86 million),
with a DTI contribution of £1.27 million. These projects
are in a number of areas, including the further development of
existing design concepts, research to tackle key development issues
and monitoring of prototype devices.
8.4. There is limited scope for wave energy
projects to receive EC funding under the ENERGIE programme and
to date three applications for funding have been made. Two of
these were successfula shoreline OWC demonstration project
in the Azores and the European Wave Energy Network aimed at co-ordinating
and improving the interaction between players.
9.1. The Government has placed the environment
at the heart of policy making and is committed to combining environmental
sustainability with economic and social progress. Prudent use
of resources, including renewable resources, is a key part of
the UK's sustainable development strategy.
9.2. The UK is playing a leading role in
the fight against climate change. It has put in place a strong
programme of measures to reduce emissions, to achieve and go beyond
its Kyoto target. It is looking ahead to the more fundamental
changes that will be needed in the years to come.
9.3. Developing renewable sources of energy
is an important part of this. Renewable sources of energy emit
no greenhouse gases in generating electricity, or are carbon neutral
over their life cycle. Wave and tidal energy have the potential
to make a significant contribution.
9.4. Mechanisms are in place to ensure that
the environment implications of proposed new schemes are fully
considered. When schemes are proposed, their proponents must comply
with the requirements for environmental impact assessment. These
involve compiling an environmental statement of the likely effects,
which must be taken into account by the competent authority before
a decision is taken on whether to grant consent.
9.5. Wave energy and tidal stream project
sponsors would need to seek approval from the appropriate planning
authorities in the UK before deploying any offshore plant and
9.6. The inter-governmental OSPAR Commission
for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East
Atlantic completed recently (December 2000) a comprehensive assessment
of the present state of, and future threats to, the North East
Atlantic. This said "The environmental impact of the present
plans both for more land-based power generators at a number of
coastal sites and for wind, and possibly wave, power generation
systems offshore needs to be carefully considered. In addition,
new developments should minimise interference with other users
of the sea, particularly fishing and shipping." (Quality
Status Report 2000, section 6.3.1). The OSPAR Commission has included
a study of what international action is needed in this field in
its work programme. The UK will be participating actively in this
10.1. The UK is one of the leaders in the
field of wave energy. The technology was the subject of an extensive
programme of work between 1973 and 1984 which, due to poor economic
prospects, continued at a lower level until 1994 when it finally
ceased. The SRO projects, EPSRC and DTI Programmes are now all
helping to build on this earlier work to take forward the development
and evaluation of the technology.
10.2. Following the ministerial decision
in April 1999 to include wave energy in DTI's renewable energy
programme, the UK is funding a number of projects aimed at furthering
the development of the technology. DTI is also a founder member
of the International Energy Agency (IEA) interim agreement on
ocean energy (which includes wave). This initiative, led by Portugal,
is aimed a fostering co-operation between countries with an interest
in exploiting sustainable energy from the oceans and sponsoring
collaborative programmes of work.
10.3. As indicated in previous sections,
the UK has given support to the development of wave energy at
all stages of its development (eg early R&D through the EPSRC,
prototype develpment through DTI grants and demonstration through
10.4. There is considerable work underway overseas
but little of this has led to designs which are at the demonstration
stage. Most of this work started relatively recently and is industry
led (a brief synopsis of those devices which are currently being
developed by industry and being at a commercial scale is given
in Table 1). There are major Government led programmes (usually
involving industry) in China, Denmark, India, Japan and Sri Lanka,
with more minor programmes is several other countries. This has
led to the deployment of only three commercial scale devices (shoreline
OWCs in India and Sri Lanka and a floating OWC in Japan). Little
or nothing is known about the commercial viability of these devices
but the experience in India has led to the replication of the
OVERSEAS INDUSTRY LED PROJECTS AT THE COMMERCIAL
||Current Status and Participants
|Australia||The Energetech OWC is a shoreline device similar to the UK's LIMPET but which uses wave focussing and a novel turbine.
||A 400 kW commercial scheme is currently being built for deployment this summer in Australia. This is a joint venture between Energetech (a small developer) and Primergy (a renewable energy company with acquisitions in the UK) with the assistance of academia and an engineering company. Energetech is about to sign contracts for commercial schemes in two other countries.
|Ireland||The McCabe Wave Pump is a hydraulic device for extracting energy from waves in moderate water depths. It is being developed to produce potable water for arid countries by supplying pressurised sea water to a reverse osmosis plant.
||A prototype 400 kW device has been successfully tested but only over a limited period. A commercial device is under construction and scheduled for deployment later this year. It is being developed by a small company (Hydam) in conjunction with consultants and a small engineering company. Further contracts depend on the successful, long-term performance of the device being constructed.
|The Netherlands||The Archimedes Wave Swing is a large, float-based device designed to extract energy from moderate to deep water depths.
||A 2 MW device is being built and will be deployed this summer. It is being developed by a small engineering company with the backing and technical support of a major utility and several engineering companies.
|USA||The Wave Energy Converter developed by Ocean Power Technology (OPT WEC) is a float-based, mechanical device designed for moderate water depths (20-50 m). It consists of small units (20-50 kW) which will be deployed in arrays.
||The OPT system has been extensively tested at a large scale in the Eastern Atlantic and the first commercial schemes are currently being built in Australia and in the Pacific, with a number of other schemes in the pipeline. It has been developed by a small engineering company, with limited support from consultants.
10.5 As far as is known, there are only two Government
led programmes in this area. These have led to the deployment
of small test devices in China and Japan, with no plans for further
development. Only one commercially led scheme has been deployed
(a 130 kW device in Italy only last year). This area is the subject
of R&D in only a few companies world-wide (Canada, the Netherlands
and New Zealand) but there are currently no demonstration devices
27 February 2001