Renewables chief warns that EU red-tape is fettering UK wave and tidal energy development

Wave power general2 HWUBritain’s wave and tidal energy sector is being shackled by “detrimental” regulatory burdens that continue to inhibit industry growth, the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA’s) Ocean Energy Group has warned.

Dr. Stephanie Merry, head of the UK REA’s Ocean Energy Group told MPs on the Westminster Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee that EU directives are detrimental to marine energy projects in regards to time, cost and human resource implications for smaller companies.

She said: “One of the things we would like to happen is for the regulatory burden of these environmental directives to be proportionate to the size of the project.

“We would like to see the positive impacts of marine projects included in the environmental impact assessment because marine renewable energy is trying to do positive things for the environment. At the moment it’s all about the negative impacts.

“This disincentivises investment and is disproportionate and detrimental to marine energy, particularly when a company may only have one small demonstration project.”

As an example, Merry cited a 30MW project off the coast of the Isle of Wight – which had to submit an environmental impact assessment at the cost of more than £1 million – and the MCT turbine project in Strangford Lough, which had to fork out £2 million for environmental monitoring.

Wave Energy Scotland –  the quango funded by the Scottish government – allocated £7 million last year to 16 different wave energy developers in order to help them commercialise their technologies. Projects that received funding included feasibility studies for adapting technology from the wind and automobile sectors, and finding more efficient ways of converting wave energy into electricity.

  • Meanwhile, technology giant Apple is also branching out to the wave and tidal sector with the launch of a new £1 million R&D fund to support a wave energy project off the coast of Ireland at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site.

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