ETI to prioritise tidal stream technology over other marine renewables

The UK marine industry should focus on tidal stream technology rather than tidal lagoon or wave energy in order to compete with other low carbon sources of energy, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The government also needs to make a successful agreement on a Contract for Difference (CfD), it said.

The ETI believes tidal stream has the potential to compete with other low carbon energy sources over the coming decades. Other marine renewable sources are at a less developed stage and therefore carry with them higher costs. It said tidal lagoons require large levels of investment to demonstrate and then deploy at scale.

The institute added that tidal stream energy can have a role in a whole energy system response to a low carbon transition but primarily in specific locations rather than as a blanket supply option. Stuart Bradley, ETI Offshore Renewables Strategy Manager said: “The UK has some of the best tidal waters in the world, but these are generally a long way from grid connections and major population centres where the demand is greatest. Marine energy also requires engineering solutions to work in the harshest of environments and it is incredibly challenging to build equipment that operates effectively and reliably.

For this reason, in the case of energy systems design, the ETI said it predicts that tidal power will work best serving inhabited coastal locations as a prime source of energy consumption.

The ETI recommended a “radical rethink” on wave energy technology as it’s presently up to 10 times more expensive than other low carbon alternatives. “A rethink is required in wave to bring costs down, but the early signs are that bodies such as Wave Energy Scotland are tackling this challenge so support should continue to be provided to such work,” Bradley said.

Bradley concluded: “The UK has some of the world’s best tidal and wave resources and we do lead the world in tidal and wave device development. But it remains an industry in relevant infancy. Policy makers need to review the evidence base and decide the exact contribution of marine energy to a future low carbon energy industry so the industry can move ahead, improve cost performance and contribute positively.”

During 2017 the ETI will be releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years.

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Flagship tidal array carries hopes of fledgling sector

In on the tide? Sian Crampsie took a look at the UK’s potential tidal projects and found barrages more popular than lagoons

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