2 Potential benefits of wave and tidal
7. One of the aims of our inquiry was to identify
the potential benefits that wave and tidal power could bring to
the UK. In this section we provide a summary of the potential
rewards associated with developing marine renewables.
A large domestic resource
8. The UK has the largest wave and tidal resource
in Europe. This is a result of the UK's exposure to Atlantic winds
(which boost the wave resource) and the existence of a number
of headlands and islands, which concentrate tidal flows.
9. Various attempts have been made to estimate
the size of the resource that is available in the UK. Estimations
of the practical wave resource range from 40-50TWh per year (for
comparison, a total of 381TWh of electricity was generated in
the UK in 2010). The practical tidal stream resource has been
estimated at 116TWh but a more recent assessment of the practical
and economic resource produced a lower figure of 21TWh per year.
total, the Carbon Trust believes that practical and economic sources
of wave and tidal power could provide 20% of current UK electricity
10. Although the potential resource is large,
it may be years or even decades before the technology is sufficiently
advanced to be able to harness significant levels of this energy
economically. Potential deployment levels and timescales are discussed
in more detail in paragraphs 37-42.
11. Marine renewables could benefit energy security
by reducing the UK's reliance on imported fuels. Tidal stream
has the additional benefit of providing a predictable output that
is not dependent on the weather. This could be extremely valuable
in a system that also contains intermittent sources of generation,
such as wind.
12. Although wave power is driven by the wind
there could nevertheless be some energy security benefits associated
with this technology too. This is because wave power is less variable
from hour-to-hour than wind energy and can be forecast several
days in advance. Wave power can also sometimes be out of phase
with offshore wind since waves generated in the mid-Atlantic travel
more slowly towards the land than the pressure fronts themselves.
Finally, there is a good match between the availability of wave
energy and seasonal electricity demand.
13. Wave and tidal stream are renewable forms
of energy and therefore could make a significant contribution
towards the UK's long term climate change objectives.
DECC told us that "by 2050, for a high deployment scenario
of 27GW installed capacity, wave and tidal stream technologies
could save 61Mt of CO2" (for comparison,
total emissions from the power sector in 2010 were 156 MtCO2e).
The Engineering Institutions told us that this was a reasonable
14. The establishment of a new marine energy
industry could bring economic benefits for the UK. The Carbon
Trust has recently estimated that the global market for marine
could be worth £340 billion (in 2050) and that the UK's share
of this could be worth £76 billion.
The industry estimates that there could be 10,000 direct jobs
in 2020 and the Carbon Trust has estimated that there could be
as many as 68,000 UK-based jobs by 2050.
15. Many witnesses highlighted the potential
for export opportunities in the future. There is increasing interest
in marine renewables around the world, with markets beginning
to emerge in Canada, USA, Korea and New Zealand (among others).
There is scope for supplying physical components of marine devices
to these other markets, as well as providing specialist skills
and expertise (such as offshore surveying and contracting, and
16. We heard numerous pleas to heed the lessons
of the UK's experience in developing wind power technology in
the 1980s. Although the UK was at one point a leader in terms
of research and testing of wind turbines, it failed to establish
a domestic wind turbine manufacturing industry and therefore was
unable to capture many economic benefits. Denmark, on the other
hand, supported its domestic wind power industry through the early
adoption of Feed in Tariffs and emerged with almost 40% of the
wind turbine market in 2003.
The Renewable Energy Association said:
Denmark is the undisputed leader of the modern wind
energy industry and lessons must be learned from this success
if the UK is to capitalise on its current stronghold in marine
renewable energy. Early political vision in Denmark, including
consistent financial support mechanisms and priority grid access,
provided security for private investors to develop wind energy
on a commercial basis. [
] With similar vision and structured
political support, the potential of the marine renewables industry
could be captured in the UK.
9 A practical resource takes technical and physical
constraints (such as world heritage sites or shipping lanes) into
consideration. Economic resource considers the available energy
which can be exploited at a cost considered to be economic.
The Offshore Valuation Group, The
Offshore Valuation: A valuation of the UK's offshore renewable
energy resource, 2010
Carbon Trust, Accelerating marine
energy, July 2011
DECC and Ofgem, Statutory Security
of Supply report, November 2011, p 9 Back
Ev 82 Back
Ev 58, 62, 78, 91, 99, w16, w32, w52, w78, w85, 88, w91, w100,
Ev 78, 91, w85, w107 Back
Ev w45, w52, w107 Back
Ev 42; DECC, The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future,
December 2011 p 69 Back
Ev w91 Back
Ev 82 Back
RenewableUK, SeaPower: funding the marine energy industry 2011-2015,
March 2011; Carbon Trust, Accelerating marine energy, 2011;
Q 184 Back
Ev 42, 53, 62, 78, 88, 99, w1, w24 ,w29, w32, w39, w45, w58, w49,
w81, w83, w85, w97, w100, w102, w107 Back
Ev 53, 62, 71, 78, 91, w29, w43, w45, w85, w91, w100, w102, Back
Ev w 85 Back