1 Introduction |
1. The seas and oceans represent a large potential
source of renewable energy but, unlike wind turbines and solar
panels, technologies that can achieve the Holy grail and "turn
sea water into electricity" are still in their infancy.
If captured effectively, the energy contained in waves and the
flow of the tides could provide a clean and reliable source of
electricity. With the largest wave and tidal resource in Europe,
the UK could gain substantial benefits from marine renewables.
2. The UK is currently the world leader in the
development of wave and tidal stream technologies.
Of the eight full-scale prototype devices installed worldwide,
seven are in the UK.
This success is the result of a number of factors: an abundant
natural resource, a long history of academic research on wave
and tidal power, world-class testing facilities and a strong skills
base in other maritime industries.
3. Our inquiry was prompted by DECC's decision
to close the £50m Marine Renewables Deployment Fund and to
replace it with a £20m innovation fund but it has not been
limited to it. We have also examined the opportunities for the
UK in developing wave and tidal energy and assessed the effectiveness
of the Government's broader policy measures in this area.
4. In this report, we use the phrase "tidal
energy" to refer to tidal stream energy (unless otherwise
stated). While we recognise that tidal range technologies (such
as tidal barrages and tidal lagoons) could also make a significant
contribution to the UK's energy system, we have not looked in
detail at this family of technologies. This is because this group
of technologies is more mature (La Rance tidal barrage in France
has been operational since 1966)
and therefore faces a very different set of challenges around
deployment and support than those faced by nascent technologies
such as wave and tidal stream. We refer interested readers to
the work of our predecessor committee on Severn Estuary Tidal
Power Projects. We use
the term "marine renewables" to refer to wave and tidal
stream energy only - we have excluded consideration of offshore
wind from this inquiry.
5. We received 50 submissions of written evidence
and held three oral evidence sessions. A full list of witnesses
can be found at the end of this report.
We are very grateful to all those who have contributed towards
this inquiry. We also visited the European Marine Energy Centre
(EMEC) in Orkney, where we met with members of the industry and
representatives from the local council.
We would like to express our thanks to all those who took the
time to meet us and to impart their first-hand knowledge of the
opportunities and challenges in developing wave and tidal energy.
Structure of this report
6. We begin our report in Chapters 2 and 3 by
setting out the context of our inquiry, including identifying
some of the potential benefits the wave and tidal energy could
bring and some of the barriers to investment in this sector. Chapter
4 looks at the Government's overarching strategy and the various
institutions that are engaged in developing the marine renewables
sector. Chapters 5 and 6 address some of the main barriers to
the development of marine energy, including raising sufficient
finance (Chapter 5), grid connections, the consenting process,
public acceptability, environmental integrity and the skills gap
(Chapter 6). Finally, we draw conclusions in Chapter 7.
1 with the exception of some tidal range technologies,
such as La Rance tidal barrage in France - Ev w16. Back
Tidal stream devices use the flow of water due to tides
to generate electricity. Tidal range devices use the change
in height of water due to tides, using principles similar to a
Ev 42, 53, w1, w20, w24, w32, w39,
w45, w61, w97, w107; Q 11 Back
Ev 82 Back
Ev 42, 78, 82, w20, w45, w52, w61, w97, w102 Back
Ev w8, w16, w73, w78, w81 Back
Energy and Climate Change Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Severn
Estuary Tidal Power Projects, 14 October 2009, HC 1011-i Back
Page 36 Back
See annex 1 - note of visit. Back