The much-anticipated British Energy Security Strategy is out today, aiming to provide secure, clean and affordable British energy for the long term.
In amongst the sections on onshore and offshore wind and solar is a reference to tidal power, and to the expansion of the Contracts for Difference Scheme. Indeed, it was announced back in November 2021 that in the fourth allocation round (AR4) of the Contracts for Difference Scheme, £20 million per year will be ringfenced for Tidal Stream projects, giving the marine energy sector a chance to develop their technology and lower their costs in a similar way to the UK’s offshore wind industry. The Government estimates that wave and tidal stream energy combined has the potential to deliver a massive 20% of the UK’s current electricity needs.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng hailed this investment as providing "a major push for tidal power to become a key part of the next generation of renewable electricity projects needed to strengthen energy security as we work to reduce our dependency on volatile fossil fuels".
A 2021 report into global trends in clean energy technology innovation, published by the European Patent Office, notes that Europe provides "some notable examples of extreme specialisation in LCE [low carbon emission] supply sub-categories" and singles out the UK as a specialist in "ocean and hydroelectric technologies". Yet, many ocean energy technologies are still in their infancy, and with a couple of exceptions, to date very few actually supply power to the National Grid. It is to be hoped that targeted investment via schemes such as Contracts for Difference will help convert UK expertise into a significant portion of the power needed by UK homes and businesses.
AR4 of the Contracts for Difference Scheme closed to applications on 14 January 2022, and we expect the final auction results to be announced in spring/summer 2022. We welcome the inclusion of tidal energy in the UK's Energy Security Strategy, and very much look forward to seeing the winners in the Tidal Stream sector, and the technology which has the future potential to provide the UK with clean and reliable energy.