In the fight against climate change, the tide is turning for those who wish to lead the transition to clean energy.
Tidal energy has undergone exciting and transformational changes in 2018, as it progresses towards becoming an abundant, economically viable and predictable source of power.
Building on the UK’s heritage as a proud maritime nation, it presents a huge opportunity for UK jobs, manufacturing, economic growth and exports.
By 2050, this global market could grow to £76bn and the UK’s local coast communities are well placed to benefit from this.
According to a report published by Catapult, with revenue support, the UK could deploy up to 100 megawatts (MW per year from 2021/22 and the tidal stream industry could generate a net benefit to the UK of £1.4bn by 2030. This would support almost 14,500 jobs by 2040.
But the absence of revenue support from the UK government since 2017 has led to a hiatus of projects here and some companies are heading for foreign shores. This is enabling other countries, such as Canada and France, to capitalise on highly skilled jobs being created by the industry.
The UK leads the world in the tidal and wave energy sector but it is on the cusp of throwing it away. Considering that the UK has 50 per cent of Europe’s tidal resource potential, this is staggering to comprehend.
The tide is one of the strongest forces on earth, an abundant source of clean energy which remains largely untapped. But momentum in the international community to develop this new source of predictable renewable energy is growing. In October, Nova Innovation spoke with G7 Energy
Ministers about tidal energy in a round table discussion in Nova Scotia, Canada.
We have already made great strides towards maximising this source of clean, renewable energy. Our Shetland Tidal Array in Bluemull Sound, Scotland is the first of its kind in the world and has produced reliable and predictable energy to the UK’s electricity grid for more than two years.
History shows that it takes time to develop new energy technologies, this has been the case for coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and more recently solar and wind. We are innovating and moving down the cost curve to allow the abundant potential of tidal energy to be realised.
The marine sector as a whole was well recognised at the Scottish Green Energy Awards with our EnFAIT project – an expansion of the Bluemull Sound array – scooping an Outstanding project award.
The €20 million flagship EU EnFAIT project – Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal – will demonstrate that the cost of tidal energy can be reduced by 40 per cent.
After a successful first full year the project has received approval from the European Commission to proceed to its next stage.
This decision from the EU is a huge vote of confidence in the future of the European tidal energy industry.
But the industry has reached a crucial stage in terms of development. A supportive policy environment for tidal deployments is essential if this country is to lead the transition to clean energy. We recently announced the game-changing integration of our tidal energy turbines with battery storage to provide consistent, clean power ‘on demand’. The Tesla Powerpack was successfully integrated with our tidal array, delivering the world’s first grid-connected ‘baseload’ tidal power station.
Our projects are demonstrating that it is becoming economically viable to generate electricity from the tides. Tidal energy is already displacing diesel generation and it will be in a position to displace nuclear power by 2030.
In December, representatives from 196 countries announced the Katowice Climate Package, a negotiated agreement to implement the measures proposed in Paris during 2015. This creates a sea change of opportunity for the world to work together to address climate change, but the opportunity needs to be grasped.
This is why consistent government support is vital in enabling the UK to maintain its lead and exploit the opportunity to manufacture and export this technology across the world.
With support, we stand ready to deliver. Now is the time to reap the benefits that tidal energy provides.