The wave and tidal energy sectors have been recognised as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to secure a new low carbon, indigenous source of power which could deliver significant economic and industrial growth.
The UK is home to some of the best marine energy resource in the world. Not only does the island have great access to tidal energy, the nation also has an evolving, dynamic marine energy sector which is already achieving outstanding technology developments. (Marine Energy Programme Board, 2015) Furthermore, the UK industry has an established international presence in marine engineering, built up through centuries of ship building and offshore operations.
Three key opportunities are highlighted for UK wave and tidal energy:
1. Regional economic development and the creation of job opportunities
Through investing in the UK wave and tidal renewable energy sectors, high value jobs will continue to be created close to areas of high energy resource. Most often these are areas where other economic development opportunities are limited.
2. Low carbon, secure electricity supply
Wave and tidal energy has the potential to supply up to 20% of UK electricity while avoiding the generation of 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
3. Export potential
Britain is presently a market leader and UK suppliers could capture a large proportion of a global market across over 50 countries.
A report by the Marine Energy Programme Board estimates that the UK could capture a slice of the global marine energy market worth up to £76 billion and separately this could contribute to around £4 billion cumulatively to UK GDP by 2050.
At present, there are approximately 1,700 people working in the UK wave and tidal sectors (of which 800 of these are in Scotland alone) with nearly £450 million spent to date in the UK supply chain. This could grow to over 20,000 skilled jobs in the next decade.
Making these possibilities a reality is hinged on securing the right political and financial support. The UK is now closer than ever to developing commercially viable marine energy. In parallel, markets around the world are also developing rapidly.
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