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UK government announces biggest investment into Britain’s tidal power

Wave on sunset. Nature composition. Element of design.

The UK government will invest £20m per year in Tidal Stream electricity as part of its flagship renewable energy auction scheme, kickstarting a brand-new chapter for the tidal industry and creating jobs across the UK.

Today’s announcement will unlock the potential for a thriving UK tidal power sector, with the cash boost supporting marine technologies which could benefit the whole of the UK.

As part of the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference Scheme due to open next month, the UK government will ensure that £20m per year will be ringfenced for Tidal Stream projects, giving the marine energy sector a chance to develop their technology and lower their costs in a similar way to the UK’s offshore wind industry. This will bring the total funding for this allocation round to £285m per year.

History has illustrated the effectiveness of the scheme’s design in keeping costs down – between the first allocation round in 2015 and the most recent round in 2019, the price per unit (MWh) of offshore wind fell by around 65%.

Over time marine technologies have the potential to significantly contribute to our decarbonisation commitments and could support hundreds of green jobs across the country, with projects currently in development in North-West Scotland, North Wales and the Southern coast of England.

Tidal energy has the potential to be a very reliable source of generation, given the clockwork predictability of the tides. Including this in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix will make it easier to match supply with demand, building on the UK government’s commitment to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “As an island nation we are perfectly placed to capitalise on clean marine energy, building on our booming offshore wind sector which is now a British industrial success story. We hope to see marine energy follow in the successful footprints of other renewable technologies, where we’ve seen costs fall dramatically in recent years thanks to UK government support. The investment today provides a major push for tidal power to become a key part of the next generation of renewable electricity projects needed to strengthen energy security as we work to reduce our dependency on volatile fossil fuels.”

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