9. The UK Government initiated the first dedicated
wave energy programme in 1974, with considerable investment and
hopes of it contributing significant amounts of energy to the
country's electricity needs. It was largely inspired by the oil
crisis, and the need to find alternative sources of secure energy.
Researchers were given an initial design target of a 2,000 MW
wave power station and, unsurprisingly, they failed to meet the
The programme was radically scaled down in 1982, after an internal,
and unpublished, government report predicted that wave energy
would never deliver electricity at a competitive price.
The programme was finally abandoned in 1994.
The DTI now recognises that the decision to terminate the programme
was clearly a mistake.
10. A number of schemes proceeded in the 1980s and
1990s. Queen's University, Belfast, operated a small, near shore,
pilot device on Islay, which generated 75 kW and operated for
nearly ten years. In 1999 the then Minister for Energy, Mr John
Battle MP, relaunched the Government's wave programme as part
of the DTI's New and Renewable Energy Programme, though on a much
more modest scale than in 1974. Perhaps more significantly for
the development of wave power, three wave devices were chosen
in 1999 as part of the third round of the Scottish Renewables
Obligation to supply electricity to the Grid at an agreed price,
for a period of approximately twenty-five years (see Table 1 below).
Table 1: Wave power projects
chosen under the third round of the Scottish Renewables Obligation
||LIMPET 500, a 500 kW oscillating water column
||Islay, Western Scotland
|Ocean Power Delivery
||Two 375 kW Pelamis ('Sea Snake') Wave Energy Convertors
||off the West coast of Islay
|Sea Power International
||400 kW Floating Wave Power Vessel (FWPV)
||off the Shetland Islands
We have also received evidence about a number of
other commercial schemes in the UK and around the world, as well
as academic projects at the Universities of Edinburgh, Lancaster