The boss of the world’s biggest tidal energy project today warned of the potential “travesty” facing the UK if did not even the renewables stakes.
Tim Cornelius is the chief executive of Atlantis Resources, which operates the MeyGen project.
His warning comes as the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed the outcome from the 2017 allocation round for contracts for difference (CfDs) for renewable energy projects.
Atlantis’s majority owned subsidiary, MeyGen Limited, was not awarded a CfD in this allocation round in respect of Phase 1C of the world’s largest tidal stream project in northern Scotland.
Mr Cornelius said: “We’ve made great strides in reducing our cost of generation so that we can slash our requirement for revenue support, and I am incredibly proud of the work the Atlantis team has done in this respect. However, I must acknowledge the difficulties of competing on a level playing field with established technologies like offshore wind, which has been operating at commercial scale in the UK for over a decade.
“It would be a travesty if the UK were to lose out on another emerging industry where it has established a first-mover advantage and where the cost of energy is on a steep downward trajectory.
“We expect our ensuing discussions with BEIS to focus on how the future jobs and growth benefits of the sector can be secured for the UK. Our UK portfolio contains some of the best tidal stream sites in the world, and we support the ambition to ensure that the development of these sites is achieved through a UK focused supply chain rather than relying on imported skills and goods. We hope that the UK can continue to play a leading role in an industry it helped create over the past decade.”
The company leader pointed to France and Canada as leaders in wide-reaching renewables support.
He added: “Elsewhere in Europe, we are being kept very busy pursuing opportunities in France and Canada, both of which have pledged capital and revenue support for tidal stream power. The market for tidal power in South East Asia is growing rapidly and we hope to be making some announcements shortly with respect to large scale projects in that region. We are also very focused on our tidal barrage and flood protection project in the Wyre estuary, which we believe also offers a route to low cost, predictable and sustainable domestic electricity supply. We expect to be able to provide a further update to the market on these projects in due course. Our diversification strategy has been well executed. The future of marine power is very bright and I am very excited about the outlook for Atlantis.”
MeyGen’s 3.5km site covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the UK, just 2km from Scotland’s north-east tip. To the north of the site is the uninhabited island of Stroma, which creates a natural channel with the mainland to accelerate the millions of tonnes of water flowing between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean every day. This site was originally identified by Atlantis in 2007, following a global review of tidal resource which concluded that the high flows, medium water depths and proximity to the mainland rendered it a prime location for development.
The MeyGen project is currently the largest planned tidal stream project in the world, and is the only commercial multi-turbine array to have commenced construction.