The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK

February 2012 – the UK government Energy and Climate Change Committee issues it’s eleventh report

(extract from report)

102. The UK is clearly leading the world in the development of wave and tidal energy. Indeed, the sense of pride in the UK’s achievements in this sector was palpable throughout our inquiry, and rightly so. Marine renewables have the potential to contribute a significant amount of clean electricity to the UK system and could also bring substantial economic benefits. It should therefore be a key priority for the Government to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of technology development and does not allow its lead to slip.

103. Although it is still very early days for marine renewables and it is unlikely that they will make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy mix before 2020, the potential longer-term benefits associated with developing a thriving wave and tidal industry in the UK are significant. The Government must not repeat the mistakes that allowed the UK to lose its lead in the development of wind power. An overly cautious approach to developing the sector may allow other less risk-averse countries to steal the UK’s lead.

104. The priority must now be to focus on reducing the costs of marine energy to a level that is competitive. Simplifying the plethora of different organisations that provide funding will help minimise bureaucracy for the industry and providing greater certainty about policy plans beyond 2017 will help to boost confidence. The Department has learnt from the experience with the Marine Renewable Deployment Fund and is now engaging much more closely with the industry through the Marine Energy Programme Board. This should ensure that new policies are based on a realistic assessment of what the industry can deliver.

105. While most of the focus to date has been on getting prototype devices in the water, it is important to anticipate other barriers that will need to be overcome as the sector moves closer to commercialisation. As the scale of deployment increases, issues such as grid connections, the consenting process, the need for better data on marine wildlife and public attitudes all have the potential to derail the development of marine renewables. It is reassuring that DECC is already thinking about dealing with some of these obstacles, though in the case of others such as public engagement there is clearly room for improvement. The industry in particular should not assume that marine renewables will automatically enjoy public support simply because they are “out of sight and out of mind”.

106. Wave and tidal energy is a sector that shows great promise. The opportunities for deployment of these technologies worldwide are considerable. Although it will be some time before we can reap the full benefits of a fully-fledged marine energy industry, it is vital that DECC continues to support the development of these technologies so that the UK can retain its leadership position. The resource that the Government has put in to underpinning our world lead has not been large, but the potential benefits are great. The UK needs a strong political vision to ensure that we can reap the rewards of a successful marine industry.


UK Wind Power Passes the 6 Gigawatt Threshold

Although quite widely reported I felt it was important to recognise this milestone in the development of wind generation in the UK.

RenewableUK, the trade association representing the renewable energy industries, has announced that the country’s wind sector has reached a landmark 6 gigawatts of installed capacity – enough to supply electricity to 3,354,893 homes.

The 6GW threshold was reached following recent installation work at the Ormonde offshore wind farm, off the coast of Cumbria, which now has 120 megawatts (MW) operational.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery said:

“This is a landmark achievement. There’s a great feeling of pride throughout the industry that we’ve reached a record high of 6 gigawatts, and there’s a further 19.5GW of capacity under construction, consented, or in planning.

The Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap is calling for 31GW of onshore and offshore wind combined by 2020, and we’re confident that we can deliver this if we continue to get the right level of Government support”.

The Chairman of Scottish Renewables, Jeremy Sainsbury said:

“We obviously join the renewables industry in celebrating reaching the 6GW mark and congratulate the Scottish sector in contributing almost 50 per cent towards this important milestone.

“It is clear that with Scotland’s 2020 target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables that we will continue to play a significant part in delivering capacity across the UK”.


SuperGen project launches their new information website

The SuperGen Marine Energy Research Consortium has entered it’s third phase and has launched it’s NEW WEBSITE and the UK Centre for Marine Energy Research.
Their stated aim is “To conduct world-class fundamental and applied research that assists the marine energy sector in the UK to reliably and dependably accelerate deployment rates and ensure sustained growth in generating capacity to meet the 2020 targets.”

The site is full of useful current information on the developments within marine generation research and technologies. In particular, they have a very useful REPORTS PAGE, titles include:

SuperGen Phase Two Monograph
SuperGen Phase One Monograph
OES International Vision for Ocean Energy
ORECCA European Offshore Renewable Energy Roadmap
UKERC Marine Roadmap
ETI Marine Energy Technology Roadmap
Guidance for Numerical Modelling in Wave and Tidal Energy
Guidance for the Experimental Tank Testing of Wave Energy Converters
An Appraisal of a Range of Fluid Modelling Software

There is also a fully SEARCHABLE DATABASE which contains all 341
abstracts of the SuperGen Marine Phase 1 and 2 research outputs:
Searches can be made by Title/Author/Year, Phase and Workstream.


The latest figures released from DECC point to a marked increase in renewables generation in Q1 and Q2 of 2011 across the UK – 2 page summary analysis available below (word format);

Electricity generated in the second quarter of 2011 fell by 1.6 per cent (-1 TWh) compared with a year earlier.
– Coal generation was down 2.3 % (-0.4 TWh).
– Gas generation was down 18.3 % (-8 TWh), due to higher gas prices.
– Nuclear sources were up 38.4 % (+5 TWh), with increased availability compared with a year earlier.
– Hydro was up 74.5 % (+0.5 TWh), due to much higher rainfall than a year earlier.
– Wind generation up 120.3 % (+2 TWh) , with increased capacity and much higher wind speeds in May and June 2011. It was the windiest May in at least the last ten years. Of wind generation, 31 per cent was from offshore.

Renewables’ share of total generation in 2011 quarter 2 was 9.3 per cent, an increase of 3.2 percentage points on 2010 quarter 2’s 6.1 per cent.

DECC note – generation data for the latest quarter are highly provisional. This mainly affects thermal technologies, such as landfill gas, where generation is largely in the hands of smaller generators. For these smaller generators, data for the most recent month are not available, so are estimated.

Link to DECC downloads area…