Offshore renewables could power 5 million homes, says new South West England study

Offshore renewable energy projects around the South West coast of England could generate enough electrical power for 5 million homes, more than double the domestic needs of the whole of the South West.

These are among the conclusions from a study commissioned by the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) into the potential for wave, tidal and offshore wind installations to make a major contribution to electricity generation over the next two decades.

The report, from renewable energy consultancy PMSS, says there are sufficient resources for commercial use within 50 km of the coast to deliver 9.2 Giga Watts (GW) of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual needs of 20% of UK households or 5% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2030.

Of this, 1.2GW could come from wave energy, 1.8GW from tidal stream, and 4.4GW from offshore wind, much of it from two existing offshore windfarms planned in the Bristol Channel and off the Dorset coast. A further 2.5GW could come from deep-water floating windfarms.

The report says there is even greater potential beyond 50km offshore, but tapping these resources will depend on significant increases in grid capacity and resolving a number of technical challenges.

It adds that the RDA’s flagship Wave Hub marine energy infrastructure project which was installed this summer, together with research work being undertaken by the Peninsula Research Institute for marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE) in the South West, will greatly assist in tackling some of these challenges.

Claire Gibson, director of sustainable resources at the South West RDA, said: “This study highlights the huge potential of offshore marine renewables around the South West and the challenges ahead in deploying commercial installations.

“It recommends a series of licensing rounds to facilitate the delivery of wave and tidal generation capacity in the South West, for a strategic approach to the provision of onshore and offshore grid infrastructure, and the need for greater efforts to ensure that the requirements of a growing marine energy industry remain compatible with other sea users.

“In that regard this report will be an invaluable tool in the ongoing process to define Marine Conservation Zones and will ensure that marine renewables are fully considered as these decisions are taken.”

The report does not include the vast potential tidal resources of the Severn Estuary as this is the subject of the Government’s separate Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study.


Source: southwestrda,October 11, 2010