UK Government invests in tidal power

The UK Government will invest £20 million per year across the UK in tidal stream electricity as part of its flagship renewable energy auction scheme.

UK Government invests in tidal power

As part of the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference Scheme due to open next month, the UK Government will ensure that £20 million per year will be ringfenced for tidal stream energy projects, giving the marine energy sector a chance to develop their technology and lower their costs in a similar way to the offshore wind industry. This will bring the total funding for this allocation round to £285 million per year UK wide.

Scotland has long been a pioneer for tidal technology having been home to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney since 2003 where tidal energy technologies are demonstrated at sea. The UK has the largest tidal stream deployment in the world, with almost 50% of the world’s installed tidal stream capacity in Scottish waters. Furthermore, this year Simec Atlantis Energy Ltd, a homegrown company used their expertise to export and install a tidal turbine – designed and built in Scotland – for piloting in Japan.

Over time marine energy technologies have the potential to significantly contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation commitments and will support hundreds of green jobs across the country, with projects currently in development in North-West Scotland, North Wales and the Southern coast of England.

Tidal energy has the potential to be a very reliable source of generation, given the clockwork predictability of the tides. Including this in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix will make it easier to match supply with demand, building on the UK Government’s commitment to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“As an island nation we are perfectly placed to capitalise on clean marine energy, building on our booming offshore wind sector which is now a British industrial success story.

“We hope to see marine energy follow in the successful footprints of other renewable technologies, where we’ve seen costs fall dramatically in recent years thanks to UK government support.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

“This UK Government allocation of funding for the tidal industry in Scotland, and across the UK, is tremendous news. Harnessing the powers of our seas is a vital step in our transition to the use of greener, cleaner energy and underlines the UK Government’s commitment to create and protect highly-skilled jobs while on our journey to Net Zero by 2050.”

Full details of all Contracts for Difference scheme announcements was released on Thursday 25 November where the UK Government outlined plans to launch the biggest ever Contracts for Difference (CfD) allocation round, with this new ringfencing for tidal stream expected to bring the total budget for the fourth allocation to £285 million per year.

The CfD scheme is the Government’s primary method of encouraging investment in low-carbon electricity. The scheme has helped to deliver substantial new investment and reductions in the costs of capital for some renewable technologies, such as helping to reduce the price of offshore wind by 65%.

This fourth round of the Contracts for Difference Scheme will open on 13 December 2021. The UK Government will launch this auction process with the ambition of supporting up to 12 GW low-carbon electricity capacity – more than the last three rounds combined.

The costs continue to fall as green technology advances, with solar and wind now cheaper than existing coal and gas power plants in most of the world. This is thanks to clear government signals and investment made ahead and during the COP26 climate change summit, along with targeted support that boosts private sector investment, creates high-quality jobs and builds industries and technology as the UK builds back greener from the pandemic.

Energy Minister Greg Hands, said:

“The development of Scotland’s renewables industry is a major UK success story, with our renewable energy auction scheme playing a vital role in the UK becoming a world leader in clean electricity generation and helping to bring down prices for consumers”.