Investors are becoming increasingly interested in the power of UK tidal energy, as the cost of developing these assets decreases and the reliability of the systems grows. As the turbines themselves become easier to deploy and more powerful in terms of output, investors are waking up to their full potential.
Tidal energy creates power as the tides ebb and flow throughout the day. Even better, this form of energy is highly predictable and can be planned years in advance, producing an extremely reliable form of clean energy that isn't remotely intermittent in nature - unlike other clean energy sources such as wind and solar.
The cost of tidal stream energy has plummeted by 40% in the last five years. Last month, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, a government-sponsored research centre, found that prices could drop beneath nuclear energy prices in just over ten years. They forecast that 1 MW of tidal power could cost £78 in 2035, against £92.50 for nuclear.
Simon Cheeseman, speaking from the research centre, said that tidal stream energy was about to reach full commercialisation viability as investors saw the chance to speed up development, production and deployment. He added that the sector would still need to be supported to ensure it reached the same gains as offshore wind energy.
Orbital Marine says that it operates the most powerful tidal turbines in the world from its floating platform in Orkney. The company has obtained government funding to bring three new floating turbines online in 2023. Each platform can produce enough clean energy for 2,000 homes and will create around 100 new skilled jobs in the process. CEO, Andrew Scott, says that marine renewables are now at a stage where tidal stream energy can finally come online in a meaningful, commercial-grade way.