The Marine Energy Council’s 5 key asks of the next UK Government

The UK has over 30GW of untapped tidal stream and wave energy capacity, enough to provide over a third of its electricity demand. The Marine Energy Council (MEC) has set out its 5 key asks of the next Government to realise this potential and embed UK-content in projects deployed in its waters and around the word.

Tidal stream energy is highly predictable and offers unique system benefits. The UK is a world-leader, with an unrivalled deployment pipeline, created by the Government setting three consecutive ringfences in its renewable auctions. This has put the UK on course to have over 100MW of tidal stream capacity in its waters by 2028. These projects are being delivered with over 80% UK supply chain content spend, creating green jobs in coastal communities and beyond.

Wave energy is the world’s largest untapped energy resource. Projects being deployed in Ireland, the US, Portugal, Israel and China demonstrates the exciting progress being made towards commercialisation. Without a clear route to market and a supportive enabling environment, the UK is at risk of being left behind.

The UK has the maritime expertise and indigenous natural resource to lead the world in marine energy. The next Government can seize this opportunity by taking the following 5 actions:

  1. Increase the tidal stream ringfence to £30m in this year’s renewable auction (Allocation Round 6).

  2. Set a 1GW tidal stream target for 2035.

  3. Set a 300MW wave energy target for 2035.

  4. Streamline and prioritise the consenting of marine energy projects.

  5. Introduce innovation support for marine energy.

The next parliament is expected to run between 2024-2029. This will be a critical period for the UK’s net zero journey. The UK must build its strong foundations for growth in marine energy, with a view to being a global market leader.

Background to asks

  • Increase the tidal stream ringfence to £30m in the current renewable auction (Allocation Round 6). 

The UK Government secured 90MW of contracted tidal stream capacity from the previous two renewable auctions. The current £10m ringfence is forecast to secure an additional 13MW of capacity. By increasing the ringfence to £30m the next Government could secure upwards of 40MW, maintain momentum and industry growth whilst securing the UK’s international leadership position.

  • Set a 1GW tidal stream target for 2035.

  • Set a 300MW wave energy target for 2035.

Marine energy has the potential to deliver up to £41bn GVA to the UK economy by 2050, whilst providing £1bn in energy system cost savings per annum. At 1GW of deployment tidal stream is forecast to fall to £78MWh by 2035 and reach below £50MWh by 2050.

Wave energy is one of the world's largest and abundant renewable resources with a complementary generation profile with technologies like solar and wind which will form the backbone of the UK’s future energy system. In addition, there is an exciting opportunity to ‘co-locate’ wave energy converters with offshore wind in the future to reduce overall costs by 12% for both technologies.

Clear marine energy targets will increase investor confidence and provide a strong market signal that the UK is committed to the growth of the sector. As for other offshore renewable energies, having targets is key to increasing commercial scale growth, of both technologies and projects.

  • Streamline and prioritise the consenting of marine energy projects.

Offshore renewable projects over 1MW require a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) and Section 36 consent under the Electricity Act (1989). This process can take over 4 years and is an eligibility requirement for a project to bid into the UK’s renewable auctions. The next Government should work with industry and statutory consultees to streamline this process, support site monitoring to evidence the limited impact of marine energy and take a proportionate approach to marine energy deployment.

  • Introduce innovation funding for marine energy.

Research by the LSE’s Grantham Institute has shown that the UK is a specialised innovator of marine energy technologies, and more so in this area than in other technologies including offshore wind, nuclear and carbon capture, usage and storage. In the absence of access to EU funding the Government needs to ensure the UK continues to be an innovation leader, attracting the investment which will create jobs, support economic growth, and seize the opportunity to export Great British innovation and expertise around the world.

© UK Marine Energy Council (UKMEC)

This website uses cookies or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy.