ORE Catapult paints positive picture for UK tidal & wave power

Source: Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult's "Tidal Stream and Wave Energy Cost Reduction and Industrial Benefit" report.

May 2 (Renewables Now) - A new report by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult claims that the UK tidal and wave energy sectors can meet the requirements of the government’s “Triple Test”, including eventually cutting tidal LCOE in half and even further.

In October, Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry announced a trio of tests for determining support for new technologies -- achieving maximum carbon reduction; showing a clear cost reduction pathway; and demonstrating that the UK can be a world-leader in a global market. ORE Catapult estimates that marine energy technologies can pass those tests. Moreover, it believes they can displace coal and natural gas generation on the grid and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions permanently by at least 1 MtCO2 per year after 2030 and at least 4 MtCO2 per year after 2040.

According to the report, the representative current levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for tidal power approximates GBP 300 (USD 409/EUR 341) per MWh and this can go even higher for wave power. With the right support giving a route to market, however, ORE Catapult forecasts an LCOE for tidal stream of GBP 150/MWh by 100 MW installed, GBP 130/MWh by 200 MW, GBP 90/MWh by 1 GW and even GBP 80/MWh by 2 GW. Further reductions can be achieved with more focus on innovation and continued cuts in cost of capital, it notes.

When it comes to gross value added (GVA) and job creation, the tidal stream industry could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of GBP 1.4 billion, and support 4,000 jobs by 2030. As per wave energy, which is assumed to be 10 years behind in its development, it could add GBP 4 billion and 8,100 jobs by 2040.

“What we need now, to ensure that the UK capitalises on marine energy, is a supportive framework from Government to provide certainty for investors with stable revenues,” said Hugh McNeal, CEO of trade association RenewableUK.

Also commenting on the report, Andrew Scott, CEO of local firm Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said that it validates the cost analysis of the company’s 2-MW SR2000 floating tidal energy turbine. The particular device was connected to the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) Fall of Warness tidal test site in October 2016.

At the same time, Kepler Energy’s executive chairman Peter Dixon welcomed the assessment, but noted that it may be underestimating the total potential of UK tidal energy. “The good news is that the ORE Catapult may substantially under-estimate the total potential of tidal energy in UK waters, since it appears not to include the lower velocity/shallower tidal waters where other tidal technologies, such as our tidal fence, can be deployed,” he commented.

Kepler Energy is working on plans to deploy a 600-MW tidal fence in the Bristol Channel, a concept that involves connecting a series of transverse horizontal turbines in a chain.

ORE Catapult’s report will now be passed to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as the Scottish and Welsh governments, with hopes to pave the way for greater government support.

(GBP 1.0 = USD 1.364/EUR 1.136)

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