£50m for wave and tidal energy

The Government has set aside £50 million to develop wave and tidal energy over three years.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that the funding will support UK businesses "who can take first class research and development and bring it to market". According to industry sources, the funding is split between £15 million for R&D and £35 million for demonstrations and pre-commercial development.

The Renewable Power Association welcomed the £50 million as "an excellent start" and the British Wind Energy Association said it is "a welcome first step" towards developers' plans to install hundreds of megawatts of capacity by 2010 (ENDS Report 332, pp 28-31 ).

It is still to be decided how the "fund" will be distributed. To date the Department of Trade and Industry has issued £13 million in R&D capital grants for wave and tidal. But both the RPA and the BWEA have called for some of the funding to be issued as enhanced revenue per unit generated, over and above income from the renewables obligation (ENDS Reports 350, p 32  and 352, p 13 ). The DTI has now signalled that it will be considering their proposals "over the coming months" (see p 43 ).

Meanwhile, a report from the Scottish Executive's renewable energy forum says that wave and tidal energy could provide 10% of Scotland's electricity - or a quarter of its renewables - by 2020.1 It thinks that 1,300MW of capacity could be installed in Scottish waters by this time.

The report also calls for a strategic environmental impact assessment of Scottish waters to enable early development and an extension of the wave power test centre on Orkney to accommodate tidal stream generators.