Select Committee on Science and Technology Seventh Report


1.We welcome the growing recognition by Government of the energy potential of a range of offshore technologies. We hope it will lead to a coherent strategy for technology development and long-term investment. (Paragraph 15)
2.Given the UK's abundant natural wave and tidal resource, it is extremely regrettable and surprising that the development of wave and tidal energy technologies has received so little support from the Government. (Paragraph ?)
3.Owing to the reliability and predictability of their output, there would be few problems for an electricity company in integrating wave and tidal energy into its supply. (Paragraph ?)
4.There appear to be no major technological barriers to the effective development of wave and tidal energy, which could not be solved by transferring expertise and knowledge from the offshore industries, through more multi-disciplinary research projects and through the construction of large demonstrator models. (Paragraph ?)
5.The difficulties of Grid connections are probably the single most serious problem facing the successful exploitation of wave and tidal energy in the UK, and one which no single company can solve alone. (Paragraph ?)
6.We recommend that the Government should work with the National Grid Company, and other utility companies, to organise the strengthening of transmission lines required, if wave and tidal energy are to provide a significant amount of energy to the electricity market. (Paragraph ?)
7.As we begin to contemplate the enormous cost of climate change, the 'external' costs of electricity generation can no longer be ignored. (Paragraph ?)
8.The Government should examine the implications of the discount rate on renewable energy schemes involving high initial costs. (Paragraph ?)
9.The enormous potential export market for wave and tidal energy devices easily justifies the public investment now needed to ensure success. (Paragraph 39)
10.Growth in the wave and tidal energy industry would help to offset unemployment in the declining offshore oil and gas, and shipbuilding, industries. Government investment in wave and tidal energy would thus bring significant economic and social side-effects. (Paragraph 41)
11.We recommend that consideration be given to a system of 'banding' in the Renewables Obligation, with different prices being paid for different renewable technologies, to stimulate growth in key areas - especially promising, but as yet immature, technologies, such as wave and tidal energy. (Paragraph 43)
12.The evolving conditions in the electricity market and their implications for renewable technologies should be kept under close examination by the Government to ensure that the market is increasingly favourable to renewables. (Paragraph 44)
13.We welcome the Government's decision to consult on the establishment of a 'one stop shop' for offshore renewable planning applications, and would urge it to act upon its findings as soon as possible. (Paragraph 46)
14.The adverse environmental impact of wave and tidal energy devices is minimal and far less than that of nearly any other source of energy, but further research is required to establish the effect of real installations. (Paragraph 48)
15.There needs to be a more 'joined up', strategic approach between funding agencies, with sensible progress bench marking and milestones, to ensure that both technological and market deployment momentum are maintained. (Paragraph 50)
16.The current level of public spending on wave and tidal energy research is insufficient to give the technology the impetus it needs to develop fully. Targeted research funding for wave and tidal energy technology should be steadily increased year on year to create a critical mass of researchers in the field. We recommend that EPSRC introduce a managed programme for wave and tidal energy technology to achieve this. (Paragraph ?)
17.We recommend that the Government increase the amount of funding available for full-scale wave and tidal energy prototypes to prove the concept at a realistic scale. Testing on this scale is the only way in which companies can gain the extensive private backing they need if their devices are to achieve eventual full commercial realisation. The funding available should be comparable to that committed to demonstration models in other renewable technologies, such as wind. We recommend that a significant proportion of the extra £100 million of funding for renewables, recently announced by the Prime Minister, be made available for wave and tidal energy demonstration models. (Paragraph 52)
18.We recommend that the Government establish, as soon as possible, a National Offshore Wave and Tidal Test Centre to facilitate the development of wave and tidal energy. (Paragraph 55)
19.The UK is at the forefront of wave and tidal energy but other national development programmes will undoubtedly overtake ours unless the Government acts quickly and decisively to support the industry. Valuable lessons could be learned from the long-term approach adopted by the Danish Government toward the exploitation of renewables energy sources. (Paragraph 58)
20.The Government's 2010 target for renewable energy is a very welcome step in the right direction. However, challenging longer-term targets for 2020 and 2050 should be set to facilitate planning of research and to stimulate the development of genuine renewable energy sources, such as wave and tidal energy. (Paragraph 61)
21.We believe it very important that the UK Government meets its domestic targets for carbon dioxide emission reduction and renewable energy production as an example to other countries. However, the greatest global contribution that the UK can make is through the development of viable, new renewable technologies, such as wave and tidal energy. The development of renewable energy alternatives is crucial and one in which the UK has both the ability and duty to take a leading role. (Paragraph 62)
22.If the Government is serious about developing a UK wave and tidal energy industry, it must make a clear commitment via policy statements and funding. Such a commitment would reduce the perception of risk surrounding the technology and help to attract private investment. (Paragraph 64)
23.Our Report outlines the enormous potential advantages of wave and tidal technology as sources of energy: they use predictable, natural resources, which the UK enjoys in abundance; they are both far cleaner than nearly any other energy source currently available and with less negative environmental impact; and they are largely based upon tried and tested engineering and technology, in which the UK has an excellent skills base. We have recommended significant increases to public support for wave and tidal energy, to allow the technologies to develop fully. In comparison with other areas of Government expenditure these are very small amounts. Yet, the potential return on investment would be huge. The UK could finally harness some of the massive potential energy of its marine resource to supply part of its energy needs, and create a new multi-billion pound domestic and export industry, employing thousands of people. The UK has the resource, the technology and the skills base; we have a unique opportunity to seize the lead and develop a world-class industry. The urgent need to cut carbon emissions to counter global climate change and environmental problems now means that we must explore the potential of all significant sources of renewable energy. We can no longer afford to neglect the potential of wave and tidal energy. (Paragraph 65)

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