The affordability challenge for marine

Marine energy technologies are in their infancy, and will require significant investment to realise their potential as commercial electricity generators.

The problem

Due to their experimental status, tide and wave stream devices are expensive. Planning consent for the world’s first tidal lagoon has been given for a project in Swansea Bay. The project may now be assessed for value for money and affordability considerations.

The solution

Marine technologies are in the early stages of development, but may become more affordable as the UK gains experience of constructing and operating them.

The UK Government’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan (2009) notes that the world’s first full-scale wave and tidal stream devices were British innovations – demonstrating that the UK has the know-how to develop a world-leading energy sector.

Changes in technology, stronger financial incentives (such as the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff and Contracts for Differences), and the need to mitigate climate change may make large marine schemes feasible.

DECC have estimated that in 2025 generating electricity from tidal turbines would cost about 18.9 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) for deep streams and 24.5 pence per kilowatt-hour for shallow streams, and from wave power would cost about 28.3 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) [DECC, EDF Energy adjustments for inflation].