According to a new report from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, the UK could become one of the leading exporters of wave and tidal power equipment and expertise, but only if the UK Government adopts a more visionary approach to developing marine renewables.
The UK is already the world leader in the development of wave and tidal energy technologies, home to seven of the eight full-scale prototype devices installed worldwide. The report notes that this success is in part a result of the abundant natural resources that are specific to the UK, a long history of academic research, world-class testing facilities, and a strong skills base in other maritime industries.
The report suggests that up to 20 percent of the required UK electricity budget could be generated by wave and tidal power.
“Britannia really could rule the waves when it comes to marine renewable energy,” said Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Committee. “We are extremely well placed to lead the world in wave and tidal technologies, which could potentially bring significant benefits in manufacturing and jobs, as well an abundant supply of reliable low-carbon electricity.
“A more visionary approach from the Department of Energy and Climate Change could help to boost confidence and drive the pace of development.”
The desire to become a world leader is not only based in being good environmental stewards, though. The report states that there could be economic benefits to the UK if it became a true world leader in wave and tidal power. (Of course.) Homegrown companies could export equipment and components for marine devices to other markets, as well as provide specialist skills and expertise.
But the report warns that other countries less afraid of taking risks could leap ahead of the UK if the government takes an overly cautious attitude. The report points to the country’s failure to capitalize on its 80s lead in the wind turbine market. Once the leader in terms of research and testing of wind turbines, the UK failed to establish a domestic manufacturing industry and lost out to Denmark, which now controls the lion’s share of the worldwide industry now.
“In the eighties the UK squandered the lead it had in wind power development and now Denmark has a large share of the worldwide market in turbine manufacturing,” said Yeo. “It should be a priority for the Government to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of developments in this technology and does not allow our lead to slip.”
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