UK government makes its biggest investment in tidal power

tidal power production

The UK government announced on the 24th November 2021 that it will invest £20 million per year in Tidal Stream electricity as part of its flagship renewable energy auction scheme to support marine technologies which could benefit the whole of the UK. This is part of the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference Scheme due to open next month, bringing the total funding for this allocation round to £285 million per year. The scheme has been very effective in the past- between the first allocation round in 2015 and the most recent round in 2019, the price per unit (MWh) of offshore wind fell by around 65%. The Budget allocated to Tidal Stream will be ring-fenced, meaning that it can only be used for specific purposes.

What is Tidal Power?

Tidal power is a form of Hydro power that converts the energy from the natural rise and fall of the tides into electricity. The tides themselves are caused by the combined gravitational effects of the sun, the moon and the rotation of the earth. Tidal plants can only be installed along coastlines because coastlines often experience two high tides and two low tides each day. The distance between these tides must be at least 5 meters to produce electricity.

What are key figures saying about the investment?

About the allocation of £20 million per year to Tidal Stream Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

“This UK government allocation of funding for the tidal industry in Scotland, and across the UK, is tremendous news. Harnessing the powers of our seas is a vital step in our transition to the use of greener, cleaner energy and underlines the UK government’s commitment to create and protect highly-skilled jobs while on our journey to net zero by 2050.“

“With strong wind and solar power industries in the UK it is the natural next step to explore our tidal energy capabilities. It’s an exciting development in supporting of our domestically-produced renewable energy sources.“

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said:
“Wales is ideally placed to be a major source of the clean and renewable energy of the future. Harnessing the power of our seas is a vital step in our transition to net zero by 2050 and underlines the UK government’s commitment to create and protect highly-skilled jobs while doing so.“

“With strong wind and solar power industries in the UK it is the natural next step to explore our tidal energy capabilities. With this investment, Wales can continue to develop its potential as a leader in renewable technology and industry and contribute to the greener global economy of the future.“

CEO of Renewable UK, Dan McGrail said:
“This is a major step forward for the UK’s world-leading tidal energy industry, allowing us to ramp up the roll-out of our cutting-edge marine technologies and increase the pace of innovation in the sector to become more cost competitive. Ring-fenced funding for tidal stream doesn’t just unlock private investment and secure green jobs today – it also puts us in pole position to capitalise on exports to the global market in due course. That’s why we’ve been calling for this dedicated pot of funding for tidal power.“

“We need a range of renewable technologies to get us to net zero as fast as possible. As an island nation with superb tidal energy resources to harness, it’s clear that tidal stream should have a key role to play in our shift to clean energy.“

Chair of the UK Marine Energy Council, Sue Barr, said:
“The impact of this support cannot be overstated. Here in the UK we have the knowledge, skills, people and projects to lead the world in marine energy, but we have been missing a vital piece of the puzzle to unlock investment and allow the sector to scale-up and deliver. The marine energy sector stretches the length and breadth of the UK – from the Isle of Wight to Orkney and Shetland.“

“This dedicated ringfence will secure our domestic market, support decarbonisation and will enable tidal stream energy to develop; delivering export opportunities, green jobs, and economic growth in the process. We are grateful to ministers and the broader UK government for having listened, understood and acted. This new support for tidal stream brings us one step closer to delivering a Great British success story that will provide both environmental benefits through the generation of renewable energy alongside UK-wide supply chain benefits.“

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