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UK Could Lead in Marine Energy

Committee Urges Government to Extend Subsidies

By Brianna Panzica   

Wave and tidal wave power is currently in the prototype stages, but it could be the next big move in renewable energy.

The United Kingdom is in the lead, with seven of the total eight prototypes in the nation’s own waters, and yet officials fear this won’t last.

A report released by the Commons’ Energy and Climate Committee (ECC) warned the government that the UK runs the risk of falling easily from its leading position in the development of this technology.  The report urges the government to take a stronger stance in support of tidal and wave power technology and to focus less on risk aversion.

The main problem is the fact that government subsidies on the technology are set to run out in 2017—too soon for it to stand on its own.

In fact, though the government has estimated 27GW by 2050, most of that won’t even be ready until after 2020.

The ECC urges the government to extend subsidies or run the risk of losing the lead to less timid nations. It also recommends that the government aim to lower the cost to 14p per kilowatt-hour, ideally by 2020.

The starting price, the Carbon Trust said, will likely be 38-48p/kWh for wave farms and 29-33p/kWh for tidal farms.

If the subsidy runs out, this price reduction isn’t likely.

And it’s also likely that another country will take the lead and maintain it, like Denmark did with wind power in the 1980s.  Tim Yeo said:

”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.  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.” 

Marine power has the potential to become an important renewable energy source.  Particularly because unlike wind and solar, it does offer continuous baseload power generation. The UK has all the potential to lead the industry, and now it’s up to the government to support it.

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