U.K. Government Dedicates $27 Million Annually to Tidal Stream Energy

UK to fund tidal energy research
Test rig assembled in Scotland for earlier tidal research (NOVA)

Published Nov 24, 2021 8:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Having achieved significant progress with solar and offshore wind energy developments, the U.K. government is now extending its financial support to tidal energy as the next logical step in its efforts to support the development of multiple forms of renewable energy. The government will dedicate nearly $27 million annually to tidal stream electricity projects as part of an overall program valued at $380 million annually for renewable energy projects.

According to the government, Scotland has long been a pioneer in tidal technology. The country currently host’s the world’s largest tidal stream generating station, which was built in 2018. The U.K. has the largest tidal stream development in the world, with almost 50 percent of the world’s installed tidal stream capacity in Scotland.  There is also a research center operating in the Orkney Islands off northern Scotland that is hosting a range of tidal energy research. Last summer, the first round of trials were conducted on several wave energy turbines meant to capture tidal energy. The new U.K. grant program, however, will specifically focus only on tidal stream energy.

Scientists highlight that tidal energy has the potential to be a very reliable source of generation. They point to the clockwork predictability of the tides providing the opportunities to match supply and demand. 

“We hope to see marine energy follow in the successful footprints of other renewable technologies, where we’ve seen costs fall dramatically in recent years thanks to UK Government support,” said the U.K.’s Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “The investment today provides a major push for Scottish tidal power to become a key part of the next generation of renewable electricity projects needed to strengthen energy security.”

The funds dedicated to tidal energy will be part of the larger fourth round of a government program known as Contracts for Difference Schemes. The U.K. government will launch the new round of auctions in mid-December which the ambitious goal of supporting up to an additional 12GW of low-carbon energy capacity. This will be the largest round for the program, with the target exceeding the combined total of the first three rounds. The Scheme was launched in 2015, with the previous round taking place in 2019.