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£20m of funding for marine energy

Ann Elise Taylor
28th June 2011
Up to £20 million of the Government funding is to be allocated to the marine industry to encourage the development of wave and tidal devices, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker announced today.
The funding is being made available through the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) low carbon technologies budget. It will be used to help marine devices progress from current large-scale prototypes to larger formations in the sea – the final step in the development process before the devices move on to commercial use.

"Marine power has huge potential in the UK, not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a potential £15 billion to the economy to 2050," Barker said during a visit to Pelamis Wave Power in Edinburgh. "The money we’re announcing today will take marine power to the next stage of development in the UK and a step closer to being a real contender in the future energy market."

Marine energy potential
Based on current estimates, power from waves and tides could potentially meet 15-20 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand by 2050.A report released last month by the Carbon Trust estimates over the next 40 years the UK could capture just under a quarter of the global marine renewables market, worth around £76 billion, with the potential to create 68,000 new jobs.

British companies such as Pelamis, Aquamarine Power and Marine Current Turbines are already world leaders in developing wave energy and tidal stream devices, and according to DECC, the UK already has the most extensive support programme for marine energy in the world. 

Support for low carbon technologies 
Today’s £20 million funding announcement follows the Comprehensive Spending Review decision in November 2010 to allot £200 million to DECC to support low carbon technologies over the next four years, including £60 million for offshore wind. The funding scheme will kick off next spring and will fund two projects to test prototypes in various formations.

"Britain can be a world leader as we have decades of expertise in offshore industries and the most advanced devices are already being developed here," Barker said. "Our geography gives us access to rich marine resources which act as a natural laboratory to test and run devices in realistic conditions, especially in Scotland and the South West where innovative work is already being carried out."

"Drop in the ocean"
Today’s funding was welcomed by the marine industry, but was described as just "a drop in the ocean" by industry group RenewableUK.

"Overall, the first generation of marine energy projects is likely to cost £80 million per 10 megawatt scheme, and we need at least three or four projects to drive costs down and achieve the best technical solutions to maintain our premier global position in this field. So £20 million is a good start – but it’s only a drop in the ocean," said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK.

Additional details of the £20 million fund for pre-commercial demonstration of wave and tidal energy devices will be released later this year, the release said. 

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