Can marine energy make UK a frontrunner in the global energy sector?

The need to reduce the carbon footprint and to harness sustainable energy forms has never been felt this strongly before on the global platform. Scientists are working doubly hard to find energy solutions that will help the world to meet its future energy demands.

Ocean energy is being looked upon as a predictable and abundant source of energy with the capacity to supply 10% of the worlds’ electricity needs. It is estimated that the current value of investments in wave and tidal electricity projects is somewhere between £60 billion to £190 billion worldwide. The UK possesses 50% of Europe’s wave energy potential and unarguably is a clear leader in this sector.

Just like all renewable energy technologies, the marine energy sector is endeavouring to cut back costs and reach grid parity. The Government support, private investment and the largely unexploited resource are all likely to boost expansion of marine energy. According to research, 20% of UK’s total electricity requirement can be produced from the ocean energy. Around 25% of Europe’s tidal resources and 10% of Europe’s wave energy is found in Scotland alone.  It is estimated that Scotland has the resource potential to install 1.3GW of capacity from marine energy by 2020.

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But there are some challenges that need to be tackled before potential from ocean energy can be completely harnessed. This resource faces rigid competition from other renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Also, another major reason behind slow development of this resource is that it is heavily dependent on Government funding. There is a limited budget that the Government can provide in this sector due to which the ocean energy resource is relatively untapped.

Gouri Nambudripad, a Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said: “The marine energy sector has a number of technological hurdles to overcome, with the most significant being the ability to survive the harshness of the ocean environment. While marine energy currently lags behind many other renewable energy technologies, it is, over time, poised to catch up and provide meaningful amounts of electricity.”

However, the good news is that private investors are showing a keen interest in developing this sector in the future. There is a still a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding the full potential of ocean energy but with right support from the government and finical backing from private investors, this resource can develop into a full-fledged energy source and contribute significantly to the energy sector in the next five to ten years. 

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