UK can be global wave power giant, argues new report

Wave power can contribute to 10 per cent of global electricity demand by 2050 if governments and the private sector offer financial support and political stability, with the UK primed to act as the marine energy leader, according to a new report from Marine Power Systems (MPS).

The Making Wave Power Work report claims that Europe could exploit an annual market worth more than £46bn to drive uptake in wave and tidal technologies.

The study also argues that estimated global wave resources could potentially reach 4,000TWh annually. In comparison, current global electricity consumption sits at around 21,000TWh and is expected to double by 2050.

According to MPS, these figures provide a call to action for trade bodies, governments and businesses to work together to support wave energy and unlock a global market worth £76bn.

MPS’ managing director Gareth Stockman believes the world is rapidly transitioning to a low carbon future.

“Our vision is for wave power to provide 10 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2050,” he said.

“With stable government policy, steady investment and joined up communications from industry partners, the wave energy industry can become an economic success story, following in the footsteps of more mature renewable technologies such as wind and solar to become a source of reliable, affordable, clean energy.”

The report specifically names the UK, which has already invested £450m into the sector, as an area to lead the exploration, with Europe also set to benefit, as it accounts for 45 per cent of wave energy companies, while the UK is accountable for a third of the EU’s wave energy potential.

Much of the UK’s investment into wave energy is located in Scotland, which has recently had a new 30-turbine tidal park granted off the south-west coast of Islay. The West Islay Tidal Energy Park will have a generating capacity of up to 30MW, enough to power around 18,000 homes.

Commenting on the approval, Scottish Government minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “Marine renewable technologies offer huge potential to the Scottish economy – and to rural communities throughout the world.

“Scotland has a third of UK’s tidal stream resources and two thirds of its wave resources. We are also home to the world’s leading wave and tidal test centre, the world’s largest planned tidal stream array and the world’s largest tidal turbine.”

In 2015, the Scottish Government-funded Wave Energy Scotland (WES) allocated £7m to 16 wave energy developers to help them commercialise their technologies.

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