Govt’s £20m for wave energy just “a drop in the ocean”

Posted on 29 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

Trade association RenewableUK has welcomed the Government’s announcement of £20 million funding to develop the wave and tidal energy industry, but warned it isn't enough.

According to RenewableUK, the sum is insufficient if Britain wants to secure its position as the world leader in marine energy. Other measures that are urgently needed in order to achieve this goal include a further £60 million funding from the Green Investment Bank, support from new regional enterprise zones, and a guaranteed 5 ROCs per MWh, to ensure this nascent industry is financially viable.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “We want to work with the Government to ensure that the extraordinary innovations Britain has achieved in this dynamic new industry are not lost to our foreign competitors. RenewableUK is calling for the Department of Energy and Climate Change to take the lead on this, supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Treasury.

“Overall, the first generation of marine energy projects is likely to cost £80 million per 10 MW scheme, and we need at least 3 or 4 projects to drive costs down and achieve the best technical solutions to maintain our premier global position in this field. So £20 million is a good start – but it’s only a drop in the ocean”.

RenewableUK noted that when the coalition government was formed in May 2010, the Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted it to be “the greenest government ever”. Mr Cameron had already stated in 2008 that he wanted “to make Britain the force for clean, green, marine energy”, promising that “the next Conservative government will put rocket boosters behind this area of research.” It then urged the Prime Minister to stand by those promises “fully and unequivocally”.

The Government’s announcement that it will support two flagship projects with £20m (£10m per project with funding taken from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund) represents 50% of the support it could offer under EU state aid rules.

Without additional support, it risks leaving plans to deploy at least 40MW of marine energy projects high and dry, at a time when the US Government has just ratified plans to invest $50m in marine energy in 2012.