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Call for evidence

Technological Innovations and Climate Change: Tidal Power

Terms of reference

Tidal power

  1. The next session of this inquiry will look at tidal power. As the country with the largest marine renewable resources in Europe[1] and the second highest tidal range in the world[2], there is potential for a significant quantity of tidal power generation in the UK[3]. Tidal schemes, however, remain at the early stage of development, having not yet been deployed at scale or proven commercially[4]. This session will consider if various sources of tidal power, including tidal stream and tidal lagoons, could play a cost-effective role as part of the UK’s energy mix.
  2. Based on tidal movement and strength, tidal schemes have the potential to offer a predictable and reliable energy supply[5] which provides a benefit over other fluctuating sources of renewable generation such as wind or solar. However, the greatest output is delivered shortly after high and low tide and so the generation of electricity on demand (dispatchability) is low[6].
  3. Tidal energy could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK with the potential to create new jobs, many in regional economies[7] and protect against flooding in surrounding coastal areas[8]. However, there are concerns about the environmental impact of certain tidal schemes including the loss of intertidal habitat for birds, fish and invertebrates, changes in water quality and collisions with turbines, harming marine life[9].
  4. Early implementation of tidal schemes may attract supply chain investment similar to offshore wind and subsequently drive down future costs[10]. However, the Government has previously taken the view that current export opportunities are limited as few countries have significant tidal scheme potential[11].
  5. A recent survey suggested that 80% of the public support tidal (and wave) deployment[12]. There have been multiple UK Government-commissioned reviews into the potential for tidal range, such as a tidal lagoon fleet in 2017[13]. The Government concluded that this project would not provide value for money stating that as an emerging technology, tidal capital cost per unit of annual power output is higher than other energy sources[14]. It was decided that delivering the same amount of low carbon power from alternative sources would be significantly less costly[15].
  6. The Committee is inviting written submissions to inform its forthcoming session. These should focus on, but not be limited to:
  • What contribution can forms of tidal power play towards the UK’s energy mix?
  • Why, despite the considerable marine resources available, have relatively few developers established tidal projects?
  • Are there certain locations where one type of tidal technology is best suited?
  • How could financial support be structured to assist technological and project development in this area?
  • How might tidal schemes reduce costs to become commercially competitive with other low carbon or renewable options?
  • What are the environmental impacts of tidal schemes and how can these be minimised?
  • What are the wider economic benefits and what potential disadvantages could tidal schemes bring to regional areas?

Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal. In providing evidence please specify if your response relates to tidal range technologies, tidal stream technologies or other tidal technologies.

It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons[16] which outlines word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

 

[1] Royal Academy of Engineering, The Future of Marine Renewables (2011)

[2] National Assembly for Wales, Seven Estuary Tidal Power (2010)

[3] The Crown Estate, UK Wave and Tidal Key Resources Area Project (2012)

[4] The Hendry Review, The Role of Tidal Lagoons (2016)

[5] Royal Academy of Engineering, The Future of Marine Renewables (2011)

[6] The Hendry Review, The Role of Tidal Lagoons (2016)

[7] UK Marine Energy Council, UK Marine Energy A New Industry (2019)

[8] Tidal Lagoon Power, The Economic Case for a Tidal Lagoon Industry in the UK (2019)

[9] POSTnote, Marine Renewables (2020)

[10] The Hendry Review, The Role of Tidal Lagoons (2016)

[11] BEIS, TLP Tidal Lagoon Programme: Summary value for money assessment (2018)

[12] BEIS, Public Attitudes Tracker Wave 33 (2020) p. 29

[13] See The Hendry Review, The Role of Tidal Lagoons (2016)

[14] BEIS, TLP Tidal Lagoon Programme: Factsheet (2018)

[15] BEIS, TLP Tidal Lagoon Programme: Summary value for money assessment (2018)

[16] Parliament UK, Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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