Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director
Our vision sees tidal stream energy deployed at scale, powering millions of homes and creating thousands of green jobs. With COP 26 in Glasgow in November, the UK Government has a unique opportunity to state their support for a home-grown clean energy industry of the future. Linking environmental and economic policy through a clear 2030 target for tidal stream energy is the best way to do this.
Therefore, it feels appropriate to ask the question – should the UK be putting in place a 2030 target for tidal stream energy?
We say YES, and here are the five key reasons why:
- UK energy security – The UK is home to 50% of EU tidal stream resource, with the technical potential to provide 9.4% of the UK electricity demand from a non-intermittent and stable new clean energy source.
- UK supply chain support – The most recently commissioned UK tidal stream projects achieved close to 90% UK supply chain content. Furthermore, tidal stream has and will continue to draw on transferable skills and knowhow from the UK’s offshore oil, gas and wind supply chains.
- generation output can be forecast years or even centuries in advance. The net effect of adding more predictable and consistent source of renewable energy to our transmission system will be to smooth the overall power supply from renewables.
- UK export advantage –The UK is currently the global leader in the development of marine energy technologies. Not only does the UK lead the field in turbine development; it has already invested heavily in infrastructure and consents required to deliver the world’s first utility scale projects.
- Green Hydrogen & battery storage – Due to its inherent predictability and more stable power output; coupling tidal stream energy with battery storage and green hydrogen production can lead to more stable hydrogen production and increased overall system efficiency.
To help us understand what level of target should be considered for tidal stream, the first place to start is a review of the existing agreements for lease and leases that have been awarded by the Crown Estate and the Crown Estate Scotland. Below we have collated all of the tidal stream projects currently have agreements for lease across the UK.
Table 1 – Projects under development preparing and for AR4
The most advanced of these projects are the Morlais project at 240MW (Transport and Works Act Order consents pending) and the MeyGen project that has secured an 86MW Section 36 licence from Marine Scotland. If the pending Morlais consent is granted, this gives us a total of 326MW of projects in advanced stages of development.
When considering the excellent pipeline of opportunities that are being brough forward (a large percentage of which is located is Wales), combined with the numerous benefits that the tidal stream energy sector could bring to the UK, the real question is how much does the UK want to secure this once in a generation green growth global export opportunity?
By harnessing the UK’s as yet untapped tidal stream resource we will increase energy security and help optimise the UK’s energy system by increasing system stability and contributing to bringing down the overall price of renewable energy. Therefore, as a global leader in one of the few commercially viable but not yet commercialised renewable energy technologies, it does feel like it is time that the UK recognised the tremendous potential of tidal energy by setting a target for 2030 output production.
 Carbon Trust report https://www.marineenergywales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CarbonTrustMarineResourceJune2011.pdf – Viewed 28 September 2020
 https://dns.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/wales/twa-morlais-demonstration-zone/ – viewed 28 October 2020
 http://marine.gov.scot/ml/meygen-tidal-energy-project – viewed 28 October 2020