The tide is high for regional business opportunity – ORE Catapult

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult is urging businesses across the South West of England and South Wales to join a major project which aims to help them develop goods and services for the emergent tidal energy sector.

Tidal stream energy farms, which use turbines similar in concept to those in wind, to capture power from moving water, are highlighted as the most promising from of tidal power. These ‘arrays’ can now produce power at a price comparable with diesel and are expected to reach parity with nuclear and fossil fuels from 2030.

Whilst public awareness is strong around the progress made towards net-zero targets through the generation of wind and solar power, less is known about the potential within tides, and ORE Catapult is looking to change this.

ORE Catapult’s wave and tidal expert Simon Cheeseman explains the opportunity ahead of the southwest region: “Our research shows that tidal stream power could generate £1.4 billion for the UK economy by 2030. And this figure does translate into income for our coastal communities, as 50-60% of that money will go to suppliers located around the tidal sites.”

To support this drive, ORE Catapult is leading the Tidal Stream Industry Energiser (TIGER) project, a €45 million EU investment that aims to kick start 30MW of tidal stream turbine deployment, switch on new tidal sites and build a marine energy supply chain in the Channel region. Meanwhile, ORE Catapult’s Welsh office is home to the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) which helps companies in Wales demonstrate and verify new marine technologies.

Attracting UK businesses to the sector is one prerequisite, but a generating energy subsidy is being sought from the UK Government under the next round of Contracts for Difference (CfD).

“We are at that critical stage where we have the innovation, we know it works and can be cost-competitive,” says Simon Cheeseman. “A final push of public investment will create the route to market to enable large scale private investment to achieve full-scale deployment, otherwise we risk the UK losing out on the future markets. We need to ensure the business creation and jobs happen here in our coastal communities so we can then focus on exports as overseas market open up following a UK lead.”

“That’s why we are actively recruiting local businesses and developers to the TIGER project that will help them develop and adapt their offerings for the tidal sector. We encourage anyone interested to join our virtual ‘Meet the Buy’ events in early June.”