The UK’s marine energy sector should aim to halve its costs by end of decade, according to a plan released by the UK Energy Research Centre and the Energy Technologies Institute.
Marine energy resources, consisting of wave and tidal stream energy, are abundant in UK waters. Although marine technology must secure cost reductions in order to facilitate large scale deployment, there is great potential for these resources to make significant contributions to the UK energy mix, according to the report.
The Marine Energy Technology Roadmap 2014 recommends that the marine energy sector should target levelized cost reductions from 20p-to-50p/kWh (33c-to-84c/kWh) today to 10-20p/kWh by 2020 and 5-8p/kWh by 2050 in order to encourage continued deployment. A target cost of energy of 8-10 p/kWh for array-scale marine energy farms needs to be delivered by the mid-2020s to deliver a trajectory towards significant marine energy deployment in the UK by 2050, the report adds.
Over the next decade innovation needs to be prioritized to support installation and recovery demonstration and, potentially, small-scale array trials of such technologies as tidal turbines and wave energy converters (pictured). By doing this the industry will significantly reduce marine energy costs, enabling the UK to take advantage of its wave and tidal resource, according to UKERC researcher and marine energy expert Henry Jeffrey.
The UK marine energy sector could be worth more than £70 billion ($118 billion) and support 68,000 jobs in 2050. But the industry has reached a critical point in its development. Decisions made now will determine whether marine energy will fulfill its potential as a significant source of energy by 2050, the report says.
In 2009, Aquamarine Power signed a development agreement with Airtricity, the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy. The contract was touted at the time as the biggest deal in the history of marine energy.
The 50:50 joint venture seeks to develop wave and tidal energy sites capable of hosting 1 GW of marine energy in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The project is slated to be completed by 2020.