Marine Power a Viable Proposition
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
The marine energy corner of the green energy market could potentially contribute anywhere between £1.4 billion and £4.3 billion by the year 2050 if obstacles that are currently being experienced can be ironed out. The UK marine energy technology has made some very significant positive moves with the introduction of experimental machinery built for testing on a commercial scale. It is believed that marine energy can play a significant role in the generation of energy on the road forward. These prototypes have the potential to generate up to 180GW in capacity by 2050. Other technologies that are in the same race for tidal and wave energy generation have put marine energy on the map for possibly having a major role in generating green energy sources from the ocean.
Costs involved in marine technology would appear to be putting a damper on investment potential. Returns on any investments are not able to be calculated at this point in the trial but the potential for marine energy is significant. It is the newness and the unknown returns on investments that have been called into question. Given the same enthusiasm as wind turbines could turn this view around and increase its popularity as an investment opportunity. Perhaps if marine technology were better known and understood it would draw more interest from the investment sector.
Costs need to be drastically reduced for this form of energy to become viable, and the technical side needs to have more development along similar lines to that of wind farms. Energy generation costs need to be reduced by a massive 50 to 75% for it to become equitably competitive.
Improvements in testing should help with cost reduction, although one drawback is that energy output cannot be increased as can be done with wind turbines.
Further increases in experimentation are tools that will enable greater knowledge of this technology. New devices that have just been introduced are currently undergoing experimental investigation at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney and the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, and are looking promising. £26 million has been invested in experimentation to date by a variety of firms that are keen to harness natural wave and tidal energy sources. With ever increasing competition from other forms of low carbon sustainable renewable energy resources, more investment is desperately needed for this relatively new form of energy generation to become competitive.
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