ORE Catapult: Urgent Action Is Needed to Bolster the UK’s Wave and Tidal Industries

  • R&D

Urgent action is needed to bolster the UK’s wave and tidal industries and get investors back in play, according to a report published today by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK body supporting innovation and rapid commercialisation in offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies.

The report highlights that this strategically important market could be worth around £76bn to the UK economy, cumulatively by 2050. But funding for first arrays and technology proving has become less certain as investors have been either unwilling to invest, or have been pulling out of the market due to lack of clarity on future investment return and timing.

More investment from both the public and private sectors is needed to get the first tidal arrays to financial close, and drive the wave industry along the path to commercial readiness – it is estimated the tidal industry may need upwards of £100 million and the wave industry almost double that.

The report discusses a number of ways in which the industry can get investor confidence back to secure the vital funding required. ORE Catapult has identified five targeted actions to accelerate commercialisation of technology and de-risk investment into the marine energy sector. These include:

  • greater alignment of the ways in which technologies are assessed;
  • standardisation in the approach taken to developing technologies;
  • greater coordination between private and public sector investors;
  • greater coordination of due diligence for both projects and technologies;
  • a potential role for government in underwriting debt finance for the industry.

Commenting on the report, ORE Catapult’s Strategy & Commercialisation Director Dr Stephen Wyatt said: “Wave and tidal technologies represent a vital part of our future renewable energy mix in terms of the social and economic benefits they bring, but sector funding has reached a critical juncture and it is vital we act now in order to bolster this strategically important market for the UK economy. 

 “The Catapult is already working with industry and others, particularly academia, to focus research priorities around wider critical path components which have less to do with a developer’s intellectual property, and more to do with issues around reliability, health and safety, installation methodology, and electrical connections, to de-risk and drive down industry costs.

“Within the marine sector, we are involved in a number of joint industry projects, such as the Marine Farm Accelerator (MFA) programme, which we lead in collaboration with The Carbon Trust. With commercial-scale marine energy farms close to deployment in UK waters, the MFA project is working to develop technologies that are essential for these energy arrays and accelerating their development to de-risk technology and enable future cost savings.” 

Press release; Image: Aquamarine Power (Illustration)

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