UK Energy minister heralds ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for wave and wind-ustry sector to deliver economic growth


Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive, Renewable UK
Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive, Renewable UK

The UK government’s Marine Energy Programme Board today forecasts a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for the wave and wind-ustry sector to deliver on expectations to build a ‘new energy industry’ which could deliver jobs and business and environmental benefits.

These latest findings of the MEPB board will be highlighted today by video-link at a wind-ustry conference in Belfast by UK Energy Minister Greg Barker, MP – where Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, MSP, is speaking in person.

The MEPB notes that the UK is expected to capture a significant share of a global wave and tidal market, which will be worth £800 million per year to the UK economy by 2035. This market is set to reach a cumulative total of £48 billion between now and 2050.

The UK has already installed more devices to generate clean electricity from wave and tidal energy than the rest of the world put together.

Capacity is set to increase dramatically from 9.3 megawatts at present to 100-200MW by 2020.  Figures from Renewable-UK studies show the sector already employs 1,724 people in the UK – this is set to increase to 6,000 by 2023.

Certainly, the wind-ustry is generating an increasing number of new jobs in engineering and manufacturing in the north of Scotland as companies emigrate from the traditional Central Belt industrial heartlands to hitherto ‘peripheral’ areas around mainland and island coastal communities and harbour facilities.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive, Renewable-UK, said: “There is massive potential for the wave and tidal energy industry and its supply chain to bring huge economic benefits to the UK and generate significant amounts of clean electricity.  Every £1 of public money invested in the sector attracts £6 from the private sector. There is also great export potential for UK plc. 

“However, the industry is at a critical stage of its development as it moves towards full commercialisation.  Companies won’t invest in larger facilities until there is sufficient market visibility, coupled with the right combination of capital and revenue support, reflecting the current needs of the wave and tidal sectors.  

“Worldwide, a number of countries are positioning themselves to benefit from wave and tidal energy going mainstream.”

The French government is investing €200 million in developing tidal arrays (a group of devices linked together in the water) including state of the art facilities in the port of Cherbourg, while Canada is launching a development programme in the Bay of Fundy – which industry observers say that this illustrates how hotly the wave and tidal prize will be contested in the future.

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