Memorandum submitted by Mr Michael Jefferson,
Global Energy and Environmental Consultant
I note that the Committee will not be examining
tidal barrages and their environmental implicationsa subject
on which I have grave concerns given the environmental sensitivity
of UK estuarine sites with technical potentialnotably in
relation to migratory and over-wintering birds and the invertebrate
species on which they rely.
On the subject of wave and tidal power more
generally, most of the issues in which the Committee are interested
were covered in "New Renewable Energy Resources: A Guide
to the Future", 1994 (Kogan Page, London, ISBN 0 7494
1263 1, now out of print). Ocean Energy comprises Chapter six
of that book, pp. 320-358. I was the joint editor of that publication.
Since 1994 there have been some smaller-scale
technical developments which have been applied off-shore Northern
Scotland (and about which IT Power will no doubt inform the Committee).
There has also been some interest by a US-based developer in advancing
projects off the Welsh coast, and in Cardiff Bay. The technical
potential of wave and tidal power remains huge, despite the low
energy density in the water, low efficiencies of low-temperature
thermo-dynamic cycles, andin the case of tidal powerintermittent
operation. But the appropriateness of permitting development remains
a site-specific issue: its potential impacts on marine and bird
life, and interference with shipping and radio communication.
Truly off-shore developments which do not interfere with shipping
lanes would appear to have more merit than those which encroach
on estuaries, the shore, and shipping routes. Large-scale ocean
thermal and salt gradient schemes may have other, less well understood
negative ecological impacts and need to be approached with great
In the context of the UK Government's renewable
energy strategy, smaller-scale wave power schemes which do not
conflict with the environmental and communications concerns already
indicated have a positive contribution to make. It seems unlikely
that they will make a large, cost-effective contribution by comparison
with solar, wind, modern biomass/biogas, and energy efficiency
The UK's R&D effort in wave and tidal energy
is modest, as it is in the renewable energy sector more generally.
The UK is one of the very few countries where public sector energy
R&D expenditure has unequivocally fallen over the past decade
(Italy and Spain are the most notable other European examples).
Major falls in most other countries for which energy R&D expenditures
are available can be largely explained by reduced spending on
nuclear and conventional fossil fuel technologies (see Annex to
"Energy Policies for Sustainable Development", being
Chapter 12 of "World Energy Assessment: Energy and the
Challenge of Sustainability", 2000, UNDP, New York, USA.
ISBN 92-1-126126-0. Pp. 447-449). In most countries for which
full and reliable data are available, R&D spending on renewable
energy and advanced fossil fuel technologies have risen or remained
steady in real terms over the past decade, unlike the three European
countries mentioned earlier in this paragraph.
In respect of international comparisons, the
UK does not figure prominently in wave and tidal energy R&D
nor in renewable energy R&D more generally.
Formerly Deputy Secretary General and Director
of Studies and Policy Development, World Energy Council. Joint
Editor: "New Renewable Energy Sources: A Guide to the
Future", 1994. Author of "Energy for Tomorrow's
World", 1993; and "Energy Policies for Sustainable
Development" in "World Energy Assessment",
UNDP, 2000. First Technical Co-ordinator and Lead Consultant to
the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force, 2000. Review Editor, IPCC
Working Group III, Third Assessment Report, "Barriers, Opportunities
and Market Potential of Technologies and Practices", forthcoming
26 January 2001