London, England [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Marine energy could provide up to 20 percent of the UK’s current electricity needs and become cost-competitive with conventional and other renewable types of energy generation in the long term — given the right level of investment now.That is the finding of a new report published by the Carbon Trust into the future costs and growth potential of the UK wave and tidal stream energy sector. The report also reveals that the sector could meet three percent of the UK’s total electricity supply by 2020. The study is based on the Carbon Trust’s Marine Energy Challenge, a GBP 3 million (USD$5.3 million), 18-month program, designed to improve understanding of wave and tidal stream energy by helping developers advance their technologies. Marine energy currently costs more than conventional and other alternative energy sources as the generation technologies are at early stages of development. However, the Carbon Trust report predicts that the cost of marine renewables has the potential to fall significantly in the future. It cites private investment, underpinned by long-term Government support, as vital in unlocking the potential of the marine energy market. Other key factors included in the report as being likely to impact on the growth of marine energy include the availability of grid connections and network capacity, regulation and security of supply considerations. “The UK leads the world in marine renewables technology development,” said John Callaghan, Program Engineer at the Carbon Trust. “Given our superb natural resources and long-standing experience in offshore oil and gas, ship-building and power generation, the UK is in prime position to accelerate commercial progress in the marine energy sector and secure economic value by selling marine energy devices, developing wave and tidal stream farms, and creating new revenues from electricity generation. “Our report indicates that wave and tidal stream resources could ultimately supply up to a fifth of UK energy needs. Given the sector’s potential as a low carbon and indigenous energy source, growing the marine renewables market is an exciting prospect as part of the UK’s fight against climate change. However, public support and private investment is needed now to step up the pace of marine renewables development in the UK and ensure it meets its potential.” “Today’s report provides important impetus behind the vision that Britain can rule the waves and tides, making a significant dent in our carbon emissions alongside creating new world class industries for UK plc,” said Marcus Rand, Chief Executive at British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). “With the Government’s Energy Review shining a spotlight on future energy policy, this influential report has been published at a critical time. The findings, he says, confirm that marine energy has a major role to play in providing 20 percent of the nation’s power in a secure and carbon-free way. It lays down the challenge to Government and industry to provide the appropriate levels of public and private sector support over the coming years to ensure this vision becomes a reality, Rand said. “We must, as a nation, urgently pick up this challenge as evidence from the wind sector shows where long-term support is provided the costs of power generation can be reduced significantly and the multiple environmental and economic benefits can be harnessed,” Rand said. In light of the reports findings, the Carbon Trust recommends that the UK public sector funders should consider the following ways to support the development of the UK marine energy sector: — Give increased support over time for marine renewables technology development, with greater support for RD&D and cross-cutting technology issues to help deliver cost reductions; — Support marine renewables project development from now into the medium term, contingent on technologies proving technically viable in the first instance, and later — on evidence of reducing costs; — Develop a clear long-term policy framework for support to the sector to give business greater investment certainty. Detailed studies were also made into other technologies where developers did not participate directly, including shoreline and near-shore Oscillating Water Column (OWC) wave energy converters and tidal stream energy generators. For further information, go to the following link.