Forecast by government thinktank the Carbon Trust comes weeks after ministers scrap £42m subsidy programme
A government thinktank has predicted that the British marine energy sector could be worth £76bn to the economy and support 68,000 jobs by 2050.
The analysis, released this week by the Carbon Trust, comes only weeks after coalition ministers ended the industry’s subsidy programme.
Britain could capture almost a quarter of the global wave and tidal power market if it builds on its existing lead, the trust forecast. The majority of the jobs would be a result of the growing export markets in countries such as Chile, Korea and the US as well as Atlantic-facing European states which benefit from powerful waves or tidal currents. The study, the most in-depth of its kind, found that total marine energy capacity could be 27.5 gigawatts in the UK by 2050, enough to supply more than a fifth of current electricity demand.
But the Carbon Trust says new wave and tidal technologies need to be accelerate at a time when the government’s £42m marine renewable deployment fund has been eliminated and the most ambitious marine project – the 10-mile long Severn Barrage – has been given the thumbs down by the energy secretary, Chris Huhne.
However, some smaller schemes have been given the go-ahead, such as one in the Sound of Islay between Islay and Jura in western Scotland. Britain is still said to be home to about 35 of the world’s 120-130 wave energy and tidal stream device developers. “Marine energy could be a major ‘made in Britain’ success,” said Benj Sykes, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust. “By cementing our early mover advantage, the UK could develop a significant export market, generate thousands of jobs and meet our own demand for clean, home-grown electricity.”
Sykes added: “To maintain our world-leading position, we must continue to drive innovation within the industry and turn our competitive advantage in constructing and operating marine technology into sustained green growth.”
Innovative British companies such as Pelamis, Aquamarine Power and Marine Current Turbines are among those active in UK waters. Almost half of Europe’s wave resources and more than a quarter of its tidal energy resources are to be found off the British coastline.