Senior politicians and figures from the renewable energy sector are backing calls for the Government to pledge fiscal support for the UK’s fledgling wave and tidal energy industry.
Trade organisation RenewableUK launched its Sea Power campaign this week, which includes an urgent call for funding from government, following the recent release of its report, ‘Wave and Tidal Energy in the UK’, which found that the sector has the potential to employ 10,000 people and generate revenues of nearly £4bn per year by 2020.
The report warned that the industry currently sits at a ‘crossroads’ , in a development context, and the UK could miss out on a place among the world leaders in emerging tidal and wave technology unless government provides prompt backing.
Chief executive of Scottish Renewables, Niall Stuart, has now put his voice behind the cause, stating the sector would make sound sense for Government to invest in, given its potential returns.
He said: “The biggest barrier to us converting our early lead into a commercial-scale industry is funding, and while greater levels of private sector capital are coming into the sector all the time, the UK Government must take a share in the development costs of new technologies if it wants to secure the massive environmental, economic and employment gains that this new sector offers.
“With the huge potential export market available, that investment could be repaid many times over through the sector’s future contribution to the economy and efforts to decarbonise the electricity sector. The sums the industry needs to get to the next level of deployment are tiny in the context of public expenditure, but government support could make a massive difference to the development of the industry and to communities and regional economies around our coastline.”
The Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Energy Committee, Andrew George, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister Huw Irranca-Davies and Conservative MP George Eustice have all also registered their support.
“It’s time for Britain to scale up and meet the challenge,” said George. “Wave and tidal power represents our biggest as yet unharnessed energy resource. We have already allowed our chances in other leading renewable sectors to slip from our hands. Let’s not allow this to happen again with wave and tidal power. The next few years will prove crucial.”
Irranca-Davies added: “This is a golden moment for wave and tidal energy in the UK, but the Government is in danger of watching it pass by. We could lead the world by harnessing the abundant natural resources of our island nations, develop the UK as the global centre for innovation and export of marine energy technologies, and create thousands of real green jobs. Or we can wave goodbye to green jobs and green energy as they depart for other countries. I urge the government to turn their promises into action, and to do it now.”
“There is huge potential for wave and tidal power in the UK, but there are also short term risks associated with the development of the technology. My constituency is home to the Wave Hub project and I would like to see the first marine energy park developed in the South West because we have a wave resource which is second to none”.
Eustice’s Cambourne, Redruth and Hayle constituency in Cornwall is home to the Wave Hub Project – a testing facility of new wave and tidal technology which is currently in operation and connected to the grid.
“There is huge potential for wave and tidal power in the UK, but there are also short term risks associated with the development of the technology,” he said. “I would like to see the first marine energy park developed in the South West because we have a wave resource which is second to none”.
The public are being encouraged to support the SeaPower Campaign by writing letters to their MP or by signing an online petition at: www.embracemyplanet.com/campaigns/seapower.