UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) have developed a new roadmap, which identifies the research and development areas that need to be addressed to make marine energy cost competitive with other energy technologies.
Marine energy resources, consisting of wave and tidal stream energy, are abundant in UK waters. Although marine technology must secure cost reductions in order to facilitate large scale deployment, there is great potential for these resources to make significant contributions to the UK energy mix.
The Marine Energy Technology Roadmap recommends that the marine energy sector should target levelised cost reductions from 20-50p/kWh today to 10-20p/kWh by 2020 and 5-8p/kWh by 2050 in order to encourage continued deployment, and identifies the steps required to deliver these ambitions.
UKERC researcher and marine energy expert Henry Jeffrey, from the University of Edinburgh, worked with the ETI to develop the Roadmap. He comments: “The UK marine energy sector could be worth more than £70 bln and support 68,000 jobs in 2050. But we have reached a critical point in the development of marine energy. Decisions made now will determine whether marine energy will fulfil its potential as a significant source of energy by 2050.”
“Over the next decade innovation needs to be prioritised to support installation and recovery demonstration and potentially small-scale array trials, by doing this we will significantly reduce the cost of marine energy, enabling the UK to take advantage of its abundant wave and tidal resource,” he adds.
Richard Knight, Deputy Director of Engineering & Strategy at the ETI, said: “The marine sector is an industry still in its relative infancy. There is huge potential to accelerate the development of new technology and now is the time to act. The industry needs to build viable business propositions through cost reduction and reliability demonstration to help establish a viable UK market. We hope this report will help inform decision making and help focus innovation investment.”
The Roadmap identifies forty technology and deployment issues faced by the marine energy sector in the UK, and prioritises these issues from the perspective of the industry. The analysis presented in the Roadmap includes target costs and performance for the UK marine energy sector, with timelines for their delivery, based on in-house ETI techno-economic analysis. This, along with the specific technology priority areas identified in the document, will be used by the ETI to help define their future project interventions in the marine energy sector.
The key messages from the analysis are:
– Technology validation (including array-scale installations) must take place over the next three to five years to position the UK marine energy sector for commercial viability in the long-term, in addition, these early deployments will provide necessary learning by doing that will help to unlock future cost reductions;
– A target cost of energy of 8-10 p/kWh for array-scale marine energy farms needs to be delivered by the mid-2020s to deliver a trajectory towards significant marine energy deployment in the UK by 2050.
This builds on the earlier 2010 Marine Energy Technology Roadmap and opportunities identified in the Marine Energy TINA developed by the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group, of which the ETI and UKERC are both members.