Marine RE 'should halve costs'

The marine renewable energy (MRE) sector needs to target cutting costs in half by the end of the decade to make the leap to industrial-scale commercialisation, according to a new UK report.

The Marine Energy Technology Roadmap, produced by UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), says the tidal and wave industries should be aiming at slashing levelised cost of energy (CoE) from the current £0.20-0.50/kWh to £0.10-0.20/kWh by 2020 and £0.05-0.08/kWh by 2050 to spur development of large array projects.

“The UK marine energy sector could be worth more than £70bn ($117.7bn) and support 68,000 jobs in 2050,” states University of Edinburgh UKERC researcher Henry Jeffrey, lead author of the report.  “Decisions made now will determine whether marine energy will fulfill 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.”

ETI deputy director of engineering Richard Knight adds: “The marine sector is an industry still in its relative infancy. The industry needs to build viable business propositions through cost reduction and reliability demonstration to help establish a viable UK market.”

The roadmap highlights 40 technology and deployment issues being faced by the marine energy sector in the UK, and prioritises them “from the perspective of the industry”.

Among the report’s key recommended targets are: technology validation through array-scale installations “in the next three to five years”, and hitting a CoE of £0.08-0.10/kWh for array-scale MRE farms “by the mid-2020s”.

British industry body RenewableUK’s wave and tidal development manager Dee Nunn comments: “With large scale deployment of these technologies, economies of scale will kick in which will enable the sector to achieve the cost reductions it is committed to in the long term.”

“If we invest in arrays now, and make sure the financial and political conditions are right for them, we’ll also be able to build up the UK supply chain.”