Positive Findings for Tidal Stream Energy


The tidal stream sector could add £1.4 bn to the UK economy by 2030, according to a new report. Assuming a ten-year time lag, wave energy could add £4bn to the economy by 2040. The research has been published by Catapult, a technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy in the UK.

Significantly, Catapult finds that tidal stream and wave energy are both technologies that can meet the “triple test” recently set by government as a means of determining support for new technologies. The tests are:

  • to achieve maximum carbon reduction
  • show a clear cost reduction pathway
  • demonstrate that the UK can be a world leader in a global market

The report finds that tidal stream has the potential to significantly reduce costs from approximately £300/MWh today to less than £90/MWh within deployment of 1GW. In terms of carbon emission reductions, Catapult forecasts that marine energy technologies have the potential to reduce emissions by 1MtCO2 per annum after 2030 and at least 4MtCO2 per annum after 2040.

In a statement, Catapult’s Research and Innovation Director, Dr Stephen Wyatt, highlighted the importance of taking the report findings forward to establish future support and to capture the advantage that the UK has in this field.

Marine energy is produced by a wave or tidal energy convertor that captures the kinetic energy of waves and tidal streams to generate electricity. As an island, the UK is ideally placed to utilise marine energy, but it is in competition with a wide range of other renewable technologies. Advanced marine testing facilities in Orkney and in Wales play a crucial part in developing wave and tidal energy convertors.

Functioning tidal energy convertors are in place, or under construction, in Scotland. The construction phase of the Pentland Firth power project, MeyGen, was completed last month and has now entered the 25-year operations phase. At 6MW rated capacity, MeyGen is the world’s largest tidal stream array. Meanwhile, uncertainty continues to surround the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, which has not yet been awarded government funding due to questions over the high cost of the scheme.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.