Tidal energy could boost economic regeneration of coastal communities

A report from offshore renewable energy company ORE Catapult has said that tidal energy presents a ‘significant opportunity’ for UK technology developers and coastal communities, worth a potential £1.4bn by 2030.

Coastal regions, many in need of economic regeneration, can benefit from jobs created by the sector, according to the report.

It says the number of jobs created in tidal stream energy could grow to 4,000 by 2030 and to 14,500 by 2040. In wave energy, this could grow to 8,100 by 2040, giving a total of almost 22,600 jobs supported by the sector by 2040 through companies diversifying into marine energy,

Tidal power captures the energy of sea currents caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon. Wave power is generated from wind passing over the surface of the sea.

A 2016 analysis by economic development agencies in the South-West, Wales and Scotland estimated that around 1,700 people currently work in the UK wave and tidal sectors, with roughly £445m spent to date in the UK supply chain.

In total, the UK has in excess of 1,000MW leased tidal stream energy sites and 10MW of operational tidal stream capacity, including a number of multi-turbine arrays. However, the report says the momentum created by significant UK public support between 2004 and 2014 has now visibly slowed, with a knock-on impact on private sector investor confidence.

It says ‘there is a very real danger that as global momentum grows in these countries, the UK risks handing over its global lead to other countries.’

The report makes the case that the UK’s marine energy industries are therefore capable of passing the government’s stipulated ‘triple test’ for deciding whether they should support new clean energy technologies. It reviews the cost benefits, carbon emission reductions and whether it will help the UK compete on the global market.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said the UK’s marine energy industries now needed a ‘supportive framework’ from government in order to provide certainty for investors and stable revenues.

‘Developing these technologies here in the UK will secure investment and jobs in coastal communities, rather than letting our global advantage slip away to competitors,’ he said.

‘Already, we are exporting our world-beating marine energy expertise across Europe and as far afield as China and the Americas; these are new markets with enormous scope for growth in the decades ahead.’

Read the report here

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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