tidal energy

Tidal stream industry could create 4000 jobs and produce £1.4bn for the UK, report finds

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Renewable energy generated by tidal stream technology could generate £1.4bn for the UK while supporting the creation of 4,000 jobs by 2030 according to a new report from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

The body, which promotes offshore renewable technology, said that tidal power meets the government’s “triple test” for new technologies which it introduced in its Clean Growth Strategy in October.

The tests put forth by the government are: achieving maximum carbon reduction; showing a clear cost reduction pathway, and demonstrating that the UK can be a world-leader in a global market.

But ORE Catapult warned there is a “very real danger” that without government support the UK could hand over its lead on the technology to other countries as global momentum grows.

The report also concludes that wave energy could make a net positive contribution to the UK economy of £4bn and support 8,100 jobs by 2040.

Between 50 and 60 per cent of the economic benefit in terms of both gross value added (GVA) and jobs is expected to be generated in coastal areas, many of which are in need economic regeneration.

Tidal stream generators, often referred to as a tidal energy converter, extracts energy from moving masses of water, in particular tides, but can also be used in rivers and streams.

Wave power on the other hand captures the energy of wind waves to create electricity. A few small projects have already been launched in the UK.

ORE Catapult said that to benefit from this growth the UK needs to present a clear success story of technology and project development in the UK, where UK companies can develop and showcase their expertise.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s research & innovation director, said: “The findings of our research are encouraging, with the potential for significant economic benefits to be realised from the UK marine energy resources.

“We will now continue our work with the tidal stream and wave energy industries, as well as relevant government departments, to discuss these findings and establish the best way forward for future support that will enable the UK to capture such advantage, in terms of growing our economy, creating jobs and exporting goods and services all over the world.”

The report said 22 tidal stream technology developers are currently active in the UK, with tidal stream array deployments now in place or under construction in Scotland by Atlantis at the Meygen site at Pentland Firth and Nova Innovation in Shetland.

Wave energy is still at a technology development stage where several different concepts are being progressed.

The study also found that marine energy technologies have the potential to displace natural gas generation on the grid and to reduce CO2 emissions.

Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This report shows that with even modest global deployment the sector could rapidly reduce its costs, drive economic growth in rural communities and export around the world.

“We now need government and industry to work together to enable projects to come forward, capture learning from projects and deliver the benefits of wave and tidal technologies.”

A spokesman for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “This government has put clean growth at the heart of our modern industrial strategy and is providing up to £557m of funding for clean electricity projects - at a pivotal time when the renewable energy sector is thriving and powering our nation.

“We are reducing emissions while minimising the cost to consumers and we always consider the costs versus benefits of any renewable technology.”

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