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New report highlights state of the marine energy sector

A recent report from the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub highlights key actions needed to secure the role of offshore renewable energy in the race to net zero. Published as a COP28 briefing note, the report calls for “faster collaborative action, continuing innovation, and a shared commitment to drive forward the strategic elements of the roadmap to net zero”.

In addition to setting challenges and recommendations, the report summarizes the current status of the offshore wind and marine energy sectors. In particular, the report reviews recent developments in tidal stream and wave energy.

According to the report, there are currently four Tidal Stream energy sources in the UK producing around 10.5MW of power. However, the UK has the potential to deploy 6.4GW of wave and 6.2GW of tidal stream deployments by 2050, if targets for cost reduction can be reached, and the value from these marine energy deployments could be up to £8.9bn. Further, the system benefits of Wave and Tidal Energy deployments could increase the value of other renewable energy investments.

Eleven Tidal Stream projects were awarded contracts in the recent round (AR5) of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, and for AR6 the administrative maximum strike price is set at £261per MWh, an increase of 29%. Additionally, a target to install up to 8 MW of additional energy capacity has been set by the Tidal Stream Industry Energiser Project (TIGER), which is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The report also notes that reliability estimates for tidal energy installations are now similar to those of offshore wind, at a comparable stage of operating hours.

Although no Wave Energy projects received contracts in AR5, the administrative maximum strike prices for AR6 have been set at £257 per MWh, a 4.9% increase, and UKRI has invested around £8 million to enable the UK to lead the way in next-generation Wave Energy infrastructure.

The report also notes that Tidal Stream energy offers “predictable baseload power”, just as nuclear energy does. “With reliable policy support”, the report states, “the cost of wave and tidal stream ORE is likely to follow the same cost reduction trajectory as seen in offshore wind. The cost of tidal stream is predicted to halve by 2035, reaching the same level as nuclear”.

While the Supergen ORE report sees the increase in CfD stroke prices as a positive sign, it concludes that “Despite the good news on the AR6 announcement, there is still an urgent need to reestablish strong British leadership on climate change to inspire global action, meet the domestic requirements of the Sixth Carbon Budget and to unlock the economic potential of a green industrial revolution.”

In addition, the report suggests taking “a whole system approach to ORE research, including cumulative ecological impacts and identify synergies between offshore wind, wave and tidal”.

If innovation and cost reduction in the Tidal Stream sector can indeed lead to Tidal Stream energy achieving parity with nuclear power by 2035, with a massive 50% of Europe's tidal resources, the UK would be a true world leader in the marine energy field. And with strike prices and investment in Wave Energy deployments increasing, a potential 6.4GW of wave energy could also be within reach.

Information about all known current and pipeline wave and tidal projects across the UK can be viewed on the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) website.

Can intellectual property help accelerate the race to net zero? Visit our Energy Transition hub to find out.

The UK holds 35% of Europe’s wave resource and 50% of its tidal resource. Up to 20% of UK energy demand could be met by marine energy. The UK has the global lead in wave and tidal energy development, and leads hybrid Wind + Wave energy innovation, generating economic benefits.


climate change, energy & environment, yes