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‘Game-changing’ tidal energy project approved

18 October 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The SR2000 tidal turbine being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (Image: Orbital Marine Power)

A “game-changing” £40.5m tidal energy project has been given the green light to install up to 8MW of new tidal capacity at sites in and around the Channel.

The Tidal Stream Industry Energiser Project (TIGER) will receive £24.2m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

Turbines will be submerged off the coast to harness the energy of tidal currents and convert it into electricity.

The project is being led by the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult from its office in Hayle, Cornwall, and comprises 19 partners from the UK and France including turbine developers, ocean energy demonstration sites, research organisations and local and regional authorities.

The ORE Catapult claimed that the total theoretical energy capacity in the Channel is 4GW, which would be enough to power up to three million homes.

It hopes that if tidal energy generation can be to be cost effective on a large scale, it could open the door for it to become a renewable energy of choice in coastal locations with strong tidal currents across the globe.

'Hugely ambitious'

Carolyn Reid, programme manager for Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, said: “This is a hugely ambitious project that will demonstrate the benefits of harnessing tidal energy on a large scale. The long-term aim is to support the industry to reduce generating costs of tidal stream energy from the existing €300 MW/h (£260 MW/h) to €150 MW/h (£130 MW/h) by 2025 and increase uptake. There is an EU target to reach €100/MWh (£86.5/MW/) by 2030.

“The project has a clear link to the programme objective to increase the development and uptake of existing or new low-carbon technologies in sectors that have the highest potential for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“TIGER is a shining example of how European funding has enabled collaboration between organisations in the UK and France that may otherwise never have happened, and in this case could have a massive impact on reducing the carbon footprint beyond the lifetime of the project, and beyond the Channel area.”

Energy generation costs

Tidal energy is currently expensive as compared to other forms of energy generation like nuclear power. EDF has negotiated a guaranteed fixed price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50 MW/h (in 2012 prices), which is linked to inflation during the construction period and over the subsequent 35-year operating period. In 2017, the Financial Times reported that new offshore wind costs had fallen by nearly a third over four years, to an average of £97 MW/h

Dr Stephen Wyatt, research and innovation director for ORE Catapult, said: “We are delighted to be spearheading this game-changing tidal energy project.  Developing successful UK and European collaborations is important for the UK tidal energy industry and will help accelerate the economic, environmental and societal benefits which can be derived from this emerging sector.

“This project brings together multiple organisations from across the UK and French supply chains to work towards validating the pathway to commercialisation, ensuring that sustainable, predictable and affordable tidal electricity plays a role our future energy mix as we tackle the global climate emergency.”

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