Marine energy has potential, but at the expense of other renewables

Marine energy turbinesThe numbers from today’s report by the Carbon Trust into the potential of marine energy are impressive.

According to the report, the total global market for wave and tidal could be worth up to £40bn per annum by 2050. UK companies could realistically capture around 22 per cent, or £76bn, of the total market theoretically accessible to them, the report concludes, generating 68,000 jobs in the process.

But before green campaigners in the UK jump with joy, there are a number of conditions attached to these projections, not least of which is the idea that other renewable sources have to suffer in order for marine energy to snatch this much market share.

The Carbon Trust’s Benj Sykes told Energy Source:

Marine power still has to prove itself at large scale against other renewable technologies.

Oliver Wragg from lobbyists Renewable UK was more blunt:

This will have to be at the cost of other renewables.

But this isn’t necessarily negative for renewables campaigners. Wragg and others think the government has already chosen certain technologies it does not want to lead the green energy revolution: large-scale solar, for which the government recently cut subsidies, being the obvious example.

Now, campaigners hope, ministers will start to pick certain winners, and marine energy, where the UK currently leads the world in technological development, could be one of them. Renewables UK is calling for the energy department to invest £70m of the £200m it has to develop green energy in marine energy, but admits even £40m-£50m could make a significant difference.

Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, has previously said he doesn’t want to pick winners when it comes to green technology. Green campaigners would prefer some winners to none at all however.

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