UK Funding to Kick-Start Wave and Tidal Power

The UK is by far the greatest state supporter of ocean energy, and a recent round of government support is further testament. The UK’s first large scale wave and tidal power generation farms could be contributing to the national electrical grid within three years under a new support plan worth GBP 42 million (US$ 71 million).

“The marine renewables sector is at a critical point in its development from pipe dream, through R&D, to commercial viability,” Energy Minister Mike O’Brien said. “The UK is already, by far, the most attractive place to develop these emerging technologies.” The Government has invested GBP 15 million (US$ 28 million) in R&D and there are now a number of wave and tidal projects on the verge of pre-commercial operation. While the UK government identified ocean energy projects as a particularly promising technology, they also acknowledged a major gap between investor willingness to support these largely experimental projects and what is needed to make them a reality. UK government hopes to fill that gap by proposing a combination of revenue based support equivalent to 15 pence per kWh (US$ 28 cents) and 25 percent capital grants. The plan will be funded from the GBP 50 million (US$ 91 million) Marine Research Deployment Fund announced in August and will support the UK’s wave and tidal industry to construct demonstration farms around the UK. The government is now accepting applications from interested companies. The project will be limited to one lead partner. The announcement is now out for consultation amongst the industry until the 28th February. “This new (GBP) 42 million scheme marks a watershed,” O’Brien said. “It will kickstart construction of large scale demonstration farms and will for the first time see wave and tidal power feeding into the national grid. Harnessing energy from the seas has terrific potential which, alongside wind and other renewables, will make an increasingly vital contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and diversifying our energy mix. The marine renewable industry welcomed the announcement as a major milestone in the development of the sector. Philip Wolfe of the Renewable Power Association, whose Ocean Energy Group represents wave and tidal energy companies, said the funding support would enable British industry to maintain world leadership in this renewable energy sector.

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