149 OES Annual Report 2015 | UNITED KINGDOM | Ocean energy policy
Annual Report 2015
Country Reports


Ifediba Egwuatu DECC

The Marine Energy sector has the potential to make a significant contribution in securing our electricity supply post 2030(50). During 2015, the tidal stream sector made significant progress, while the wave sector experienced mixed success. There was a surge of activity in the tidal stream sector with construction beginning on the world’s first multi-turbine tidal stream array project MeyGen Phase 1A; tidal stream developer Atlantis’ acquisition of Marine Current Turbines and the successful deployment of Tidal Energy Ltd’s DeltaStream device in Ramsey Sound, Wales.

2015 saw mixed success for the wave sector, with leading UK wave energy company Aquamarine Power going into administration. However, the sector did see some success with Wave Energy Scotland (WES) awarding over £7m to technology developers and consortia following their successful first international competitive open call focussed on innovative Power Take-off (PTO) systems.

There is no doubt that the UK has world-class facilities (EMEC, Narec, WaveHub, FaBTest and the testing tanks at University of Edinburgh and Plymouth University) and a rich marine resource, coupled together with the commitment across Government and Devolved Administrations to support the continuing development of the wave and tidal stream sectors coordinated by the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG)1, and significant levels of secure revenue support in place, the UK remains an attractive location for the development of these technologies of innovative devices which attracted funding from Government bodies as well as private organisations.

Following renewed interest in tidal range, and particularly tidal lagoons, from developers, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has continued to explore the potential for a future tidal lagoon programme in the UK. In March 2015, the UK Government announced it was entering into a first phase of negotiations on a Contract for Difference (CfD) for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to determine whether the project is affordable and value for money for consumers, and whether it will drive down costs for tidal lagoon energy in the UK. The first phase of negotiation is a due diligence process to establish a better understanding of the project, including detailed scrutiny of its costs, timescales and potential benefits. The due diligence process is on-going.

Planning consent for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project was announced on 9 June 2015. This is only one of a number of permissions necessary before the project can proceed. If there were to be a decision to offer a CFD, it would be subject to value for money considerations, the funds available within the Levy Control Framework at the time of a decision and to State aid approval by the European Commission.


Work is on-going on meeting the objectives of the DECC 2013 Renewable Energy Roadmap which sets out scenarios for meeting our 2020 renewable energy targets. The latest review shows that the UK remains broadly on track to meet these. On marine energy, the focus has been working with the industry to overcome the barriers to deployment; more specifically in getting the first multi-turbine demonstration tidal array project deployed. This work continues to be delivered via the Marine Energy Programme Board (MEPB), chaired annually by the lead minister for Energy and Climate Change with policy responsibility for wave and tidal stream energy. The work of the MEPB is guided by a Programme Management Group which brings together Government and representatives of the sector. It manages a number of work-streams looking at issues critical to the progress of the sector.
Given the increasing divergence of progress towards commercial deployment of the wave and tidal stream sectors, DECCs Energy Innovation Policy team is overseeing delivery of an updated Technology Innovation Needs Assessment (TINA) for marine energy, on behalf of the LCICG. The Marine Energy TINA has been split into Wave Energy and Tidal stream TINAs. The TINAs provide a shared evidence base on the potential for cost reduction in each of eleven low carbon technologies and are a valuable tool in prioritising and coordinating innovation support. The updated Wave Energy and Tidal stream TINAs are due to be published in 2016. They will enable DECC and other government innovation funders
to make effective decisions regarding how the wave and tidal stream sectors should be supported in future, based on the potential of the technology in the coming years.
The energetic waters off the Welsh coast are ideal for marine renewable energy projects and the Welsh Government has been encouraged by the growing interest in Welsh waters and the partnership approach taken to delivering projects.
The Welsh Government is working with developers to ensure that Wales can maximise the benefits and economic potential for its communities from all future operational projects. They are also working to ensure that Wales has the right skills base to support a marine industry in Wales.
The Welsh Government is working with the industry, the Crown Estate, Natural Resources Wales and key partners to overcome consenting risks and uncertainties. They also continue to work to streamline the planning system in Wales, which will benefit all future developments including those in the marine energy sector, such as the two demonstration zones being developed in Welsh waters, and four separate tidal stream projects with seabed agreements in place for locations across Wales.
They are also continuing with activities in support of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project. In May tidal stream technology developer Minesto was awarded a 13 million Euros investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. This funding will support Minesto’s plans to establish its UK headquarters and install its first commercial Deep Green power plant in North Wales. In December Wales’ first full-scale tidal stream generating device was deployed when tidal stream technology company Tidal Energy Ltd (TEL) successfully installed their DeltaStream device in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire. 

The Scottish Government remains committed to the continued development of a successful marine
renewables energy industry in Scotland. The £103m Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) was created to help marine projects become commercially viable. To date, REIF has invested £37.1 million in marine energy projects with further investments planned.
The Scottish public sector has invested around £23m in the MeyGen phase 1A project, forming a significant part of the total funding package (alongside DECC and The Crown Estate funding). Funding includes; £14.62m REIF investment, a 15% stake in MeyGen phase 1A by Scottish Enterprise, and a grant funding offer of £3.31 million by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Developed by Atlantis, it is the world’s largest planned tidal stream array and will have up to 400MW of installed capacity when fully constructed (269 turbines). Construction of Phase 1A (6MW) began in January 2015 with turbines expected to be installed in the middle of 2016, and first power being generated in early 2017.
Following Scottish Government establishing Wave Energy Scotland (WES) to support wave energy
technology development, 2015 saw WES commit over £10 million through a series of strategically targeted innovation projects and research activities, securing intellectual property for the benefit of the industry and driving novel technology development.
Scotland continues to work with colleagues throughout the UK and across Europe through their membership on the British-Irish Council (BIC) and the co-leadership they provide with DECC in taking forward the energy workstream. Scotland also plays a vital role in leadership and membership of various steering groups and workstreams including; the Ocean Energy Forum (OEF), Joint Actions Working Group (JAWG) and the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG). This input is essential in identifying and addressing barriers that prevent the commercialisation of the ocean energy sector. In addition the Scottish Government is leading an Ocean ERA-NET cofund bid which will be submitted at the beginning of April 2016. The cofund supports proposals that lead to the funding of trans-national research and/or innovation projects.
The two tidal projects in Northern Ireland waters, Tidal Ventures Limited and Fairhead Tidal, continued to make good progress in 2015, working through the survey, research and stakeholder engagement activities as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the statutory consents and marine licences. They are also engaging with the NI Authority for Utility Regulation, NI Electricity and the System Operator for NI with regards to grid connection issues. It is expected that these projects will contribute to the Northern Ireland target of 40% renewable electricity consumption by 2020.
The Department of the Environment continued work on the Marine Plan which will help inform and guide the regulation, management, use and protection of the Northern Ireland marine area.

In September 2015 The Crown Estate (TCE) began a new leasing process for seabed rights of sites up to 3MW for wave and tidal stream projects.

In the implementation of UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform (EMR) programme, wave and tidal stream technologies were granted a reserved allocation of 100 MW across both the Renewables Obligation (RO) and the contract for difference (CfD) schemes, in addition to the highest strike price of any of the renewable technologies at £305/MWh. Both the reserved allocation and strike price are for deployment during the first Delivery Plan period which concludes in 2019.

Invest NI continues to work closely with companies active in the marine energy market to develop their
capability to contribute to the supply chain. 
The main source for information on opportunities to access research and development funding for marine energy and other renewables continues to be through the Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network: (https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/energyktn/overview).
Information on the main organisations providing funding for marine energy and other renewables can be found at the links included below:

The Research Councils UK Energy Programme provides funding for a wide range of technology areas including marine, covering research and training. It brings together investments from across the research councils: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/xrcprogrammes/energy/

Innovate UK is the UKs innovation agency and is an executive non-departmental body sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk

The Energy Technologies Institute is a public-private partnership that brings together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits: http://www.eti.co.uk/
The Carbon Trust offers a wide range of support for low carbon innovation mainly in the pre-market arena: http://www.carbontrust.com/home/
Other sources of public funding with scope to support research and development in the marine energy space are: The Regional Growth Fund: https://www.gov.uk/understanding-the-regional-growth-fund
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is still the only accredited wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy in the world, suitable for testing 14 full-scale devices simultaneously in some of the harshest weather conditions while producing electricity to the national grid through the company’s infrastructure.
EMEC also has two scale test sites allowing smaller scale devices or those at an earlier stage of development to gain real sea experience. Several wave and tidal developers have continued and begun grid-connected testing of their devices at EMEC’s Billia Croo and Fall of Warness sites. In April 2015 EMEC announced plans to take part in a pilot programme that will convert the excess power generated at its tidal test site into hydrogen fuel; allowing the hydrogen gas to be stored and used at a later time.
Wave Hub is a pre-installed grid connected site approximately 10 nautical miles (16km) off the north coast of Cornwall for the testing of large scale offshore renewable energy devices. The site has a Section 36 electricity consent and holds a 25 year lease for 8 kms2 of seabed divided into four separate berths. Wave Hub is owned by the UK Government Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and operated by Wave Hub Limited on its behalf.
Following securing two demonstration zone seabed leases from The Crown Estate in Pembrokeshire (wave) and North Devon (tidal); Wave Hub have been working closely with local partners to determine industry demand for the sites and exploring funding opportunities. In December 2015 they announced they had contracted MarineSpace to provide project management support to help develop these demonstration sites.

FaBTest has been operating as a non-grid connected commissioning site for marine renewable energy devices since November 2011. The site is leased from The Crown Estate and has a Marine Consent for testing, subject to permits issued by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners.
Operational support for the site, as well as on-going monitoring and world leading research, is provided by the Renewable Energy Group from the University of Exeter based at the nearby Penryn campus. The University of Exeter uses the site for on-going work around resource characterisation and environmental monitoring, as well as using it to contribute to pioneering research into reliability engineering, which is focussed on the nearby South West Moorings Test Facility (SWMTF) and the Dynamic Marine Component (DMaC) rig.
The FaBTest site is pre-consented to accommodate renewable energy devices which fit within a defined
‘Rochdale envelope’, greatly reducing the risk, cost and time for developers looking to bring a device to scale tests in sea conditions. The near shore location eases real time monitoring communications, access for inspection and repair, along with proximity to dockyard facilities for fabrication and refit. The devices currently pre-consented are wave energy converters (broadly defined by a range of size constraints), guarded underwater turbines and umbilicals/components. Negotiations are progressing to extend the lease and licence to also accommodate floating wind devices.
1 Core members of the LCICG are BIS, DECC, Carbon Trust, Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government and Innovate UK.