UK could win almost a quarter of marine-energy market

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Analysis released today by the Carbon Trust shows that the UK could capture slightly less than a quarter of the global marine-energy market.

Equivalent to up to £76bn of the UK economy by 2050, this sector could also generate more than 68,000 UK jobs if the technology is successfully developed and deployed internationally, and the UK builds on its existing lead.

The majority of these jobs would develop thanks to growing export markets in countries such as Chile, Korea and the US, as well as Atlantic-facing European states.

The analysis found that total marine-energy capacity could be 27.5GW in the UK by 2050, which would be capable of supplying to the grid the equivalent of more than a fifth of current UK electricity demand.

‘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.

‘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.’

The analysis highlighted technology verification, costs and wider support as three areas of challenge for the industry.

According to the Carbon Trust, wave and tidal technologies are moving into full-scale demonstration, but this will need to be followed by deployment of the first multiple-megawatt arrays.

Similarly, costs need to be reduced so that marine energy can compete with other low-carbon technologies — and targeted R&D will be required for this to happen.

Issues such as public approval, grid upgrades to transfer electricity to areas of demand and the development of a manufacturing supply chain will also be critical.