A new study out yesterday by The Crown Estate, which manages the UK’s coastal waters, calculates that the seas around the UK hold the potential for up to 118 GW of wave and tidal power.
Scottish waters and off the southwest coast of England and Wales offer the best wave resources, while there are promising sites for tidal stream power in English, Scottish and Welsh waters as well as off the coast of Northern Ireland. The largest single area of tidal power resources is the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary.
According to the study, wave power could provide 69 TWh/year from 27 GW of capacity, tidal stream 95 TWh/year from 32 GW, tidal barrage schemes 96 TWh from 45 GW and tidal lagoon schemes 25 TWh/year from 14 GW.
The Crown Estate says the finding indicate that there are, in theory, significant wave and tidal resources around the UK that could contribute to utility-scale electricity generation and reduce the country’s carbon emissions.
“This report reflects our strategic interest in supporting development of wave and tidal projects around the UK,” says Rob Hastings, director of The Crown Estate’s energy and infrastructure portfolio. “While the science of wave and tidal resource assessment is still emerging, and future work will clarify the resources that are practically available, it is clear that wave and tidal energy could contribute substantially to the UK’s electricity needs.”
The report cautions that it may be some years before wave and tidal projects can be constructed and operational at large scale.
But Hasting adds that The Crown Estate hopes the study will accelerate development by improving the understanding of the extent and locations of the UK’s marine energy resources.
For the moment, however, says the report, zone agreements and leases for offshore sites for wind development will “take precedence” over “speculative interest” in wave or tidal projects in the same locations.
A range of organisations contributed to the study including Black & Veatch, the Marine Management Organisation, the Northern Ireland Executive, and the Scottish and Welsh governments.
For further information:
UK Energy Minister gives Scottish low-carbon efforts a boost (11-Oct)
Scottish Government awards £7.9 million to tidal and wave developers (6-Sept)
Marine Energy Park launches in Scottish waters (2-Aug)
12 October 2012