UK report says tidal energy should contribute to clean energy goals – Hydro Review
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Posted On: July 16, 2023

UK report says tidal energy should contribute to clean energy goals – Hydro Review

The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee has released a report, Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels and securing energy supplies, that scrutinizes the government’s British Energy Security Strategy and its policies on oil and gas extraction on the UK Continental Shelf. The committee said it expects the recommendations in this report to inform the government’s revised Net Zero Strategy, which it is required to publish by the end of March 2023.

Regarding tidal energy, the report said the strategy “neglected … promising renewable technologies, such as tidal power, that had the potential to provide predictable and clean power supplies at certain locations on the UK’s coastline.”

On the potential of tidal power, the report said that tidal stream and tidal range technology could contribute to the UK’s energy security and net zero goals. However, in the past, securing generating capacity from tidal range installations has been deemed too expensive or too environmentally damaging. Recent developments have increased energy outputs to the extent that tidal range is now of similar cost to nuclear and offshore wind once whole life costs — such as inflation, interconnection and intermittency costs — are included. However, tidal energy may be a niche opportunity given limited sites with advantaged geography and is a prospect for the medium term, with onshore wind and solar being faster and cheaper.

The UK has abundant tidal energy resources, and tidal flows are “entirely predictable and can therefore deliver a consistently reliable year-round source of clean electricity,” the report said.

The committee said it welcomes “the inclusion of tidal power in Contracts for Difference auctions which has resulted in 40 MW of clean power from tides being awarded contracts. Tidal and other marine energy projects should be a vital component of the Government’s strategies for delivering both net zero and energy security. We recommend that the Government incorporate, as part of the revised net zero strategy to be published by March 2023, an approach to developing tidal and marine energy that includes a stated ambition for the sector set out in gigawatts of generating capacity. The UK should be aiming to generate a significant proportion of its power from these sources by the middle of the 2030s.”

In response to the report, the British Hydropower Association (BHA), home to the Tidal Range Alliance, released a statement. BHA said the government previously withdrew support for Tidal Range, stating that costs are higher than alternative sources of low-carbon power. BHA recommends that the government extend the support being received by the newly formed Great British Nuclear, which is receiving a £120 million ($143.3 million) development fund for new projects. The government should match this with Great British Tidal Range and an equal development fund to bring forward the 13 GW of tidal range projects proposed.

The report states the need for grid reliability that embraces smart opportunities and requires deeper flexibility. BHA calls for pumped storage and hydropower to be considered, as the only renewable energy sources able to deliver the grid reliability highlighted in the report. An expansion in both will be needed to provide grid stability to match the growth of intermittent renewables.

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