The Environmental Audit Committee has emphasised the ‘substantial potential’ of the tidal power sector to contribute to the UK’s renewable energy mix to the Government.
In a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the Committee has reflected on evidence it received in the latest stage of its Technological innovations and climate change inquiry.
Members heard that current tidal stream projects in development already have the capacity to deliver 1GW of electricity to the grid.
Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne MP, commented: “Tidal power can offer numerous benefits and potential for the UK, which boasts over 7,500 miles of coastline and unrivalled resources to generate reliable power supplies without the vagaries of sunlight or wind.
“While we appreciate the Government’s concern about the potential initial cost to the taxpayer to support early-stage tidal stream and tidal range structures, the benefits outweigh the costs.
“Support for tidal stream is likely to lead to a rapid fall in generating costs similar to, if not steeper than, the fall experienced in offshore wind.
“Tidal range projects are relatively cheap to maintain once the initial costs are paid off, offering – in the longer term – a potentially affordable contribution to make to the UK’s renewable energy mix.
“It is clear that there is a strong current of interest in tidal power, with clusters set to thrive around the UK, if it is given Government backing.
“It is imperative that the Government fully considers the benefits of this reliable renewable energy and have constructive discussions with the sector.”
The Committee reports to recognise the benefits of tidal stream technology in boosting technology clusters in coastal locations with optimal tidal flow, increasing inward investment and driving the development of specialist supply chains, which are principally UK-based.
There is also ‘significant export potential’, with UK knowledge and expertise helping other nations with tidal power projects.
However, the Committee heard that tidal range projects, such as lagoons and barrages, are stuck at the concept stage, without sufficient funding to undertake studies required to secure further backing to assess long-term viability.
The Committee urges the Government to consider the important benefits of tidal stream and tidal range, and to offer support across the sector.
In particular, according to the Committee, the Government should discuss an administrative strike price for Contracts for Difference round 4, which will allow tidal stream projects in development to proceed to the grid offer.
According to the Committee, the Government should engage constructively with the sector when discussing how this is to be paid, while discussing its proposal for a purchasing power agreement model which could see developers and investors paid for energy generated without the costs being passed on to domestic bills.
The letter can be read on the UK Parliament website.