Undersea turbines could generate a tenth of Britain’s power in the future, according to a government-backed sustainable energy research company.
Tidal stream energy uses turbines to extract energy from moving water in oceans and rivers, with UK waters holding around half of Europe's tidal stream resource.
Stephen Wyatt, director of of research and disruptive innovation at Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE) - which was established in 2013 by the government - said the 2020s could be a “golden decade” for the approach.
He told The Independent: “Tidal stream technologies are proven and on the cusp of commercialisation, with the most advanced being home-grown in the UK.
“One of the appealing aspects of tidal is its predicatability. We can forecast tides hundreds of years into the future, covering fluctuations from other power sources – you can’t predict when the sun is going to shine months in advance.
“10% is a significant number. In a world where we’re pushing for net zero, it can really move the dial in terms of UK energy demand.”
According to Wyatt, investment and subsidies could enable the technology to become cost-effective. It could create 26,600 jobs by 2040.
“Tidal energy is on track to be cheaper than both nuclear power and fossil fuels, providing clean and sustainable energy around the world,” he added.
“The UK has put significant funding into innovation and research and development, and a total of 80% of components are made in the UK. There is huge potential to create a lot of jobs in this emerging sector.”
In November it was announced that the UK government will invest £20M per year in tidal stream electricity as part of its flagship renewable energy auction scheme.
The money will be ringfenced for tidal projects each year as part of the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Scheme.
This will give the marine energy sector a chance to develop its technology and lower its costs in a similar way to the UK’s world leading offshore wind industry.
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