A recent report produced by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has suggested that ‘Tidal energy projects should be a vital component of the [UK] Government’s strategies for delivering both net zero and energy security’.
The report was released by the EAC following a nine-month inquiry to consider the transitional role of oil and gas in the UK’s energy mix and to scrutinise the Government’s British Energy Security Strategy. It says that the ‘British Energy Security Strategy’ tidal technologies get ‘scant attention’ despite tidal range having a significant benefit of predictable and reliable, year-round, energy generation, and makes the recommendation that ‘the UK should be aiming to generate a significant proportion of its power from these sources by the middle of the 2030s.’
The British Hydropower Association (BHA), home to the Tidal Range Alliance, has welcomed the report and its recommendations. In a statement it pointed out that the Government have previously withdrawn support for Tidal Range, stating that costs are higher than alternative sources of low-carbon power. However, a recent review undertaken by the University of Birmingham found that the Tidal Range is cost-competitive with other low-carbon energy projects.
The BHA recommend that the Government extend the support currently being received by the newly formed ‘Great British Nuclear’, which is receiving a £120m development fund for new projects. The Government should match this with ‘Great British Tidal Range’ and an equal development fund to bring forward the 13GW of Tidal range projects currently proposed. This should sit alongside a development road map to ensure the more urgent speed and scale of delivery that the EAC report recommends, the BHA said
The report states the need for grid reliability that embraces smart opportunities and requires deeper flexibility. BHA calls for pumped storage and hydropower to be considered, as the only renewable energy sources able to deliver the grid reliability highlighted in the report. An expansion in both will be needed to provide grid stability to match the growth of intermittent renewables.
The BHA welcomes the call for Government to provide a progress report in 2023 on the joint Ofgem and BEIS Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan. This should include the related plans to enable Large Scale, Long Duration Electricity Storage. All of which will be crucial to realising a secure, stable, low carbon grid.