Westminster backs UK's wave and tidal potential

20 Feb 12 - Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer

The UK has the potential to become a leading exporter of wave and tidal technologies - if government gives the sector the support it requires.

This is the key finding from the UK Parliament's influential Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change.

The committee has just published its report into the future of marine renewables in the UK. It confirms what I already believe - the UK can build a world-leading industry, but it does require support.

The report is based on written evidence and a series of select committee hearings where a number of leading utilities, industrial companies and technology developers, including Aquamarine Power, were called to give evidence.

Many of us cited the example of Denmark, which has successfully built a £multi-billion wind turbine export industry with technology first developed here in the UK.

What did they do that we did not? They put in place a supportive grant structure and a clear, stable long-term tariff to incentivise investment.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Scottish Government have both played a vital role in supporting the UK's wave and tidal companies to date, and are finalising the details of an appropriate grant regime for the first marine energy test arrays. What is needed now is clear sight of the long-term tariff.

Long-term signal required

Private sector investors (and they are out there) can see the support available via Renewable Obligation Certificates until 2017, when they will be phased out.

Beyond that, the view is unclear. The critical enabler for our industry will be the long-term signal of a suitable marine energy feed in tariff (FIT).

The shift from ROCs to FITs has already unsettled potential investors, and what we need now is a stable tariff that will stay in place, and not be tinkered with for a number of years.

The UK Government has already signalled it will provide certainty on this issue by 2014. The Energy and Climate Change Committee has urged DECC to deliver its decision in 2013.

We agree. There is no doubt this industry can deliver investment and growth, but early sight of the marine energy FIT will be key.

Click here for the report: The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK.

For further information, please also see here for a report produced by Aquamarine Power on the lessons to be learned from the success of the Danish wind industry, referred to in the select committee report: The Danish wind industry 1980-2010: Lessons for the British marine energy industry.


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