Experts are now calling for Holyrood and Westminster to unlock the potential of tidal and wave power and place the UK at the forefront of the developing market.
An evidence-based study by think-tank Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult found the tidal stream industry could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4bn, including considerable exports, as well as supporting 4,000 jobs by 2030. Wave energy could support 8,100 jobs by 2040 and contribute £4bn.
The report predicted the jobs created would be centred in coastal areas “with greater need for economic regeneration” such as Scotland, Wales and the south-west of England.
It added that developing these technologies in the UK would secure investment and jobs in coastal communities. Failure to invest would mean “letting our global advantage slip away to competitors”.
Industry minister Claire Perry set out a new ‘triple test’ in October last year for determining support for new technologies.
ORE believe tidal and wave power meet each of the three benchmarks - achieving maximum carbon reduction, showing a clear cost reduction pathway, and demonstrating that the UK can be a world-leader in a global market.
Dr Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s research director, said: “The findings of our research are encouraging, with the potential for significant economic benefits to be realised from the UK marine energy resources”.
“We will now continue our work with the tidal stream and wave energy industries, as well as relevant government departments, to discuss these findings and establish the best way forward for future support that will enable the UK to capture such advantage, in terms of growing our economy, creating jobs and exporting goods and services all over the world.”
In terms of the type of future support required, the report found that the technologies’ needs differed due to their maturity levels.
RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “The UK has led the world in developing tidal stream and wave technologies, and this report shows that marine renewables could follow the UK’s offshore wind industry in achieving significant cost reductions. 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.”