Characterisation of the field
Energy can be extracted from the sea in different ways: wave, tidal currents, tidal barrages, tidal lagoons and ocean thermal currents. In the UK, technology deployment has focussed on wave and tidal currents. Therefore, this landscape document concentrates on these two methods of energy extraction from the sea.
The potential for offshore wave energy in the UK has been estimated to be 50 TWh/year with nearshore and shoreline wave adding another 8 TWh/year. The UK tidal stream potential is 17 TWh/year. Taken together, approximately 15-20 of UK electricity demand could in principle be met by wave and tidal stream. However, the marine industry in the UK is at an early stage, probably 20-30 years behind the current wind industry.
Wave energy research started in the UK in the 1970s but the Department of Energy abandoned the aim of full scale prototype trials and reduced the level of funding significantly following a 1982 review which concluded that the economics of wave power were poor. A further review of wave energy in 1999, plus recommendations from the Marine Foresight Panel has led to the reinstatement of government funding for marine energy research.
Up to the 1980s marine renewables research was University led, but since the 1990s commercial device developers have played a much larger role and recently utilities are becoming more involved. Large scale prototypes for both wave and tidal stream have been installed and tested in Europe. Many more devices are being developed at model and small scale.
Within universities, marine renewables research has traditionally sat within engineering departments. More recently, in order to take account of economic, social and environmental issues, some Universities have established research centres across a number of departments or research institutes in which academics from different disciplinesare housed under one roof.
The traditional route for device development starts by testing a 1/100th scale model in a tank, developing hydrodynamic models to design the next scale model at say 1/20th or 1/10th scale, testing that in a larger tank or offshore and using results from these tests to validate the models before going to full scale.
Most marine energy technology developers are SMEs. The US Department of Energy’s Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Database list numerous devices in development around the world, with no clear winners at present. Some UK based SMEs have formed partnerships with large utilities, for example Marine Current Turbines and EDF, Pelamis Wave Power and E.ON and Scottish Power Renewables, Andritz Hydro Hammerfest and Scottish Power Renewables, and Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables. As more prototypes are demonstrated, or current prototypes are proved further, bigger players are likely to become more active. Device developers and engineering departments tend to focus on the technology, while environmental issues and economics are dealt with by cross-disciplinary research institutions and NGOs.
Device developers use off the shelf technology where possible, but it is accepted that underpinning research is required. Marine renewable energy research tends to be multi-disciplinary covering a range of topics which includes: resource modelling;fundamental hydrodynamic modelling; engineering design of devices; tank testing; electrical systems and grid connection; environmental issues; economics; and impacts of climate change. Challenges include: predictability, manufacturability, installability, operability, survivability, reliability, and affordability.
Development of a prototype from conception to a large scale sea-going prototype is time consuming and very expensive, currently taking up to 10 years. An overarching challenge is to reduce this development time. This will require developers and academic research teams to work together to develop reliable design codes and reduce the reliance on tank testing at different scales. The form and availability of financial support for R&D has an impact on the development time. Knowledge transfer from other sectors, particularly offshore oil & gas (both academia and industry), and the supply chain will play a key role in overcoming the technical challenges and reducing development time. Access to physical data from prototype deployments would assist R&D programmes, in particular the verification of resource models and design codes.
As well as the technical challenges it is important to address the more socio-economic aspects. Engagement with important marine stakeholders, such as fishermen, leisure users, environmentalists and local communities should be initiated sooner rather than later.
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Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
The UK has existing capacity to meet the marine energy challenges listed in the previous section, and these are outlined in Table 2.1. The UK has very high capabilities in a wide range of marine energy areas and is currently the world leader in marine energy. The list of UK capabilities covers all aspects of technology development from conception to large scale deployment. The capability has been established as a result of activity in another sector, such as Electrical System Design, Grid connection, device installation. Capability in other sectors is growing as a result of the increasing industrial activity in wave and tidal current energy in the UK, therefore providing the UK with a competitive edge.
Environmental monitoring of marine devices is very much an important growth area for the UK. Work undertaken as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and research taking place at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE) and Wave Hub, will be world leading and will provide the UK with a high capability to exploit a global market. The global marine renewable electricity market is estimated to be worth between £60b and £190b per annum (Carbon Trust, Future Marine Energy). There is the potential for major domestic and export markets for capital equipment, construction, installation and operation in this sector for UK manufacture.
The UK also has high capabilities with regards to testing and demonstrating facilities through University laboratories and testing tanks as well as the major marine testing facilities of EMEC, WaveHub and NaREC.
Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
Table 3.1: Research Funding | Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
University based marine renewables research covers: resource modelling; fundamental hydrodynamic modelling; engineering design of devices; tank testing; electrical systems and grid connection; environmental issues; economics; and impacts of climate change. Marine renewable energy research is intrinsically multi-disciplinary.
The key marine research investment in the UK is the EPSRC funded SuperGen Marine consortium which is currently in its third funding phase with the establishmentof the UK Centre for Marine Energy research (UKCMER) which includes the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Exeter and Queen s University Belfast as its core partners.
In the 1970s and 80s many Universities developed their own devices. The Queen’s University Belfast developed a prototype oscillating water column device on Islay which led to the LIMPET device. They also have close ties to Aquamarine on the Oyster device which grew out of research at Queen s University Belfast.The University of Lancaster developed the PS (“pitching and surging”) Frog and was included in the Carbon Trust Marine Energy Challenge. At the University of Edinburgh, the Salter Duck was the main focus of research in the 70s and 80s. That work led to research on high power density hydraulic power take off, the development of tank test facilities purely for wave energy devices, control to optimise energy capture and interface with the grid. The University of Plymouth developed a floating oscillating water column device known as the Sperboy, which has different columns to match different incident wave frequencies and was spun out into a company called Orecon (which has recently closed its doors). Manchester University has been involved in developing a device, known as the Manchester Bobber.
In terms of tidal stream, University research has concentrated on underpinning issues. However, the University of Swansea is developing a tidal sea bed mounted tidal stream device and Edinburgh is developing a vertical axis tidal stream device in collaboration with Edinburgh Designs Ltd. The University of Strathclyde have developed the CoRMaT device, a contra-rotating turbine which is now administered by the spin out company, Nautricity.
Table 3.1: Research Funding
Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
Table 4.1: Research Funding | Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
The Carbon Trust provides R&D funding for low carbon technologies, and marine renewables have been moved up the priority list for funding. The Carbon Trust launched the Marine Energy Challenge (MEC) in June 2004. The major objective was to investigate methods of reducing the cost of marine energy devices. The MEC focused on eight devices. In 2007, the Carbon Trust launched the Marine Accelerator Fund, the successor to the MEC. The project, divided into three strands: A, B & C, will help industry accelerate cost reduction by supporting:
The project involves device developers, component technology manufacturers, engineering consultants/contractors and academic research groups and closed in 2010.
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) are also investing in applied marine research such as with ETI s PerAWaT project and several TSB marine funding competitions (see Table 4.1).
Regional Development Agencies were also active in the funding of marine renewable energy. One North East funded the New and RenewableEnergy Centre (NaREC); The Joule Centre in the North West funded marine energy projects in local universities; and South West RDA was one of the funders of Wave Hub and has also funded local SMEs. However, it is not clear how much was invested by One North East and Joule.
The UK Government (through the former BERR), The Scottish Government, Carbon Trust and The Highlands & Islands Enterprise are some of the main funders of EMEC which supports applied research and development. Exactdetails of funding are not available.
There has been a lot of industrial activity in the UK since 2000, resulting in the demonstration of part and full scale prototypes at EMEC, NaREC and in University tanks. A complete list of technology developers is provided in Table 4.2 and the major demonstration projects are listed in Table 5.2.
As noted earlier, there are close links between individual Universities and device developers. For example, Queen’s University Belfast has avery close relationship with Wavegen in Inverness, and more recently is working with Aquamarine to develop the Oyster device invented at Queen’s; the University of Plymouth spun out a company to develop the Sperboy; Edinburgh has spun out three companies: Artemis Intelligent Power, Edinburgh Designs Ltd; and Pelamis Wave Power; Lancaster has worked closely with IHC Engineering Business (EB) on the development of the Frond device; Manchester has spun out a company to develop the Manchester Bobber; Swansea has formed a consortium for their tidal current device - Swanturbines; Southampton, Newcastle and RGU have all worked with tidal stream developers.
Table 4.1: Research Funding
Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
Électricité de France (EDF)
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes | Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
One of the major demonstration funding programmes in the UK is the DECC Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF) for next stage full scale prototypes. The MRDF provides a total of £42m for device developers and £8m for infrastructure building to support the marine industry. The MRDF is part of the UK Government’s Environmental Transformation Fund. Given difficulties in marine renewable energy technologies accessing the MRDF, in 2009, the Carbon Trust announced its Marine Renewables Proving Fund (MRPF) which is aimed at helping technologies reach the point that they qualify for the MRDF.
In February 2007 the Scottish Executive pledged £13m of funding for a total of 9 projects under the WATES Scheme, to assist in the development or demonstration of new wave and tidal current devices at EMEC (more details provided in Table 5.2.). As of 2010, the WATES scheme was replaced by the new WATERS Scheme with £12 million funding. This fundingwas augmented by an additional £3 million funding from the EU Regional Development Fund for projects in the Highlands and Islands. Five projects were funded by WATERS in 2010 (see table 5.2).
Regional Development Agencies have been active in funding infrastructure to assist in the demonstration of new technology. One North East fund NaREC. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise part fund EMEC. In April 2007 the South West Regional Development Agency approved £21.5m for the development of Wave Hub in SW England.
The Crown Estate has also been involved in the world’s first commercial wave and tidal leasing round, for ten sites in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. The successful bidders (developers) have signed agreements for lease with The Crown Estate to take forward the development of their wave and tidal energy installations. This will allow developers to enter the statutory consenting process for their sites with security of access to the seabed.
Table 5.1 lists the major demonstration funding programmes, and the main demonstration projects arising from those funding programmes are listed in Table 5.2.
Major EU projects with UK involvement are listed in Table 8.
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes
Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Some universities in the UK involved in marine energy research have test tank facilities these have been highlighted where appropriate in Table 3.2. In addition to these, new test facilities such as EMEC and WaveHub have been established specifically for marine renewable energy, and are listed below. Another test facility, NaREC has marine testing facilities in addition to other renewable energy testing facilities.
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Table 7.1: Networks
A number of marine networks within the UK and Europe are listed below in table 7.1.
Table 7.1: Networks
The Ocean Energy Joint programme is based around six key themes:
EU Ocean Energy Association was established in August 2005. Among its objectives are to:
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
The EU Framework Programmes fund a variety of marine energy programmes including demonstration projects of specific device technologies, networks known as Coordinated Actions, and other research collaborations. UK universities, large companies and SMEs are involved in a large number of the EU marine energy programmes as partners and in some cases as the project co-ordinator. The current UK activity in EU Framework Programmes is shown in Table 8.1 (previously completed EU marine projects are not listed here).
There are also important marine projects being funded by Intelligent Energy Europe (European Commission) that although not part of the EU Framework programme are also represented in Table 8.1.
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
Table 9.1: International Activities
There is only one IEA implementing agreement IEA Ocean Energy Systems (OES-IA), in which the UK is represented by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Table 9.1: International Activities