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Role of tidal power in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix examined

21 January 2021

The Environmental Audit Committee examines the merits of tidal power and considers whether it can play a role in the UK’s commitment to be net-zero by 2050.

Witnesses

Wednesday 27 Januaury 2021, virtual meeting

At 2.30pm

  • Sue Barr, Chair, UK Marine Energy Council
  • Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive Officer, and Henry Dixon, Chairman of the Tidal Range Alliance, British Hydropower Association
  • Neil Kermode, Managing Director, European Marine Energy Centre
  • Andrew Scott, Chief Executive Officer, Orbital Marine Power

At 4pm

  • Rt Hon Charles Hendry, Chair, Independent Review of Tidal Lagoons.

As the country with the largest marine renewable resources in Europe, and the second highest tidal range in the world, there is significant potential for tidal power generation in the UK. Tidal schemes could also offer a predictable and reliable energy source, providing benefits over other sources of renewable generation such as wind or solar.

However, the technology is at the early stages of development so has not been rolled out despite 80% of the UK public supporting tidal and wave deployment. The Government has undertaken numerous reviews into the potential for tidal range. When examining the possibility of a tidal lagoon fleet in 2017, the Government stated the tidal capital cost per unit of annual power output is higher than other energy sources.

The evidence session comes as the Committee publishes the written evidence received as part of this inquiry. Within the submissions received, the Committee was told:

  • Current tidal power technology could enable more than 6GW from 30 key tidal sites across all regions of the UK.  This is equivalent to approximately 11% of the UK’s net electricity supply in 2019 of 307.6 TWh.  (UK Marine Energy Centre, TIP 0024)
  • The UK’s potential tidal stream resources could supply up to 30GW: this is about half the total potential energy from tidal resources across Europe. (UK Marine Energy Centre, TIP 0024)
  • This capability means that tidal power is not just another important source of renewable energy: properly developed, it could make the UK a global tidal manufacturing leader in an entirely new renewable industry. (Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre, TIP 0006)
  • More mature technologies, like offshore wind, can supply energy at lower cost: this is because the technology received revenue support from the Government in its development. (RenewableUK, TIP 0005)

Further information

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