Marine energy could save the UK energy system over £1bn per annum

A new study has found that 12.6GW of marine energy deployment will save the UK energy system over £1bn a year.

The report, published through a new policy paper from the Supergen ORE Hub, and the Policy and Innovation Group at the University of Edinburgh, found that a more diverse generation mix including marine energy is consistently more available and better able to meet demand than a renewable generation mix comprising of only wind and solar.

This study focuses on a 2050 net-zero compliant scenario for the power system of Great Britain. System benefits from marine energy are quantified over a range of metrics: increased renewable dispatch, decreased peaking generation and fossil fuel dispatch, decreased storage requirements and decreased dispatch costs. This is in addition to marine energy's broader which would be up to £8.9bn Gross Value Added to the UK economy.

The key results show:

  • the potential power system benefits of this 12.6GW deployment of marine energy would be up to £1.03bn reduction in dispatch costs per annum.

  • This cost reduction comes from a higher dispatch of renewable energy – by up to 27 TWh (+6%), and thus a lower requirement for expensive peaking generation – by as much as 24 TWh (-16%) when wave and tidal generation are part of the electricity mix, compared with a scenario without marine energy generation.

  • Additionally, the scenario which includes marine energy demonstrates a higher ability to meet domestic (GB) demand with domestic generation, as it requires 5 TWh less (-65%) battery use and 3 GWh less (-6%) energy imports over interconnectors.

The report has been written by Shona Pennock and Henry Jeffrey from the Policy and Innovation Group, University of Edinburgh, and is available to download here.

The UK Government is currently consulting on CfD changes and considering consulting on non-price criteria within the mechanism, including system benefits. This new report demonstrates the broader benefit of marine energy that is currently not accounted for in the existing CfD mechanism.

The UK Government is committed to a cost-effective and secure transition to net zero. This report shows that marine energy will be key in realising that aim. It is imperative that a diverse renewable mix is supported through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which can be achieved by maintaining the tidal stream ringfence in the upcoming auction round, and introducing a separate ringfence for wave energy.

The journey to the most cost-effective energy system is not secured through solely supporting the lowest-cost renewables today. This study, alongside the ORE Catapult report in cost-reduction pathways, should be instructive for the UK Government and devolved administrations.
Richard Arnold, Policy Director of the Marine Energy Council

© UK Marine Energy Council (UKMEC)

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