Tidal Stream Energy Market

Background

The tidal resource is a phenomenal form of energy which driven mainly by the moon’s gravitational pull but also influenced by the other planets within our solar system as well as the sun itself. This makes it very predictable and widely available around the world. It is further amplified by land masses, gulfs, headlands and estuaries.

A plot of the M2 and S2 tidal harmonics showing the red bits of high tidal energy and hence market potential.

UK Tidal Energy Market

Fortunately the UK is blessed with a huge tidal potential which equates to approximately 10% of the world’s resource. Again there are areas of particular interest where the tidal streams are fastest which translates to the power potential for the area demonstrated below for England and Wales.

UK tidal energy resource map showing the strategically important areas in red and yellow.

Tidal stream energy in the UK has the potential to produce 5 to 16% of the UK’s current energy consumption. The biggest challenge for developing the tidal stream industry is to reduce the costs of deployment.

Why Tidal Stream Is Important?

  • UK market leader and 2nd largest resource: It is estimated the UK has around 50% of Europe’s tidal energy resource, and ranked 2nd in the world resource after Canada. The UK’s technical resource at around 16 TWh/year (4% of overall supply). This could be worth £1.2bl/year if exploited (using latest CFD price).
  • Electrification is being driven by the sustainable economy and climate change. Moving away from fossil fuels to reduce CO2 levels will increase our power capacity requirements by >30% (>131GW) by 2030 and >83% by 2050 (>183GW)
  • Completely predictable and near-constant availability so when deployed around our coasts, tidal energy will provide near base load capacity and security of supply assuming it is deployed in large capacity.
  • Highly complementary to wind and solar: Since it’s the only form of predictable renewable energy, tidal, has load balancing benefits when the wind is not blowing and at night.
  • Compliments energy storage: The cyclic nature of tidal energy generation is a much more cost effective means of using energy storage when combined with batteries. 95% availability of energy can be guaranteed for much lower energy storage capacity.
  • Local generation of power: Is really beneficial for weak grids and reduces the requirement of very expensive transmission upgrades.
  • Highly modular and scalable: Easier investment case compared with large CAPEX for system-level investment decisions like nuclear energy

Further Information

Useful information on ocean energy can be found on the web sites of the trade organisations including:

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