• A POSTnote on marine renewables will examine the different technologies that underpin marine energy, including tidal stream, tidal range, and wave power.
  • It will focus on the potential for marine energy to contribute to the net zero target, and to a stable, low-carbon electricity supply.
  • It will examine at recent progress in the research, development, and commercialisation of marine energy, and the potential for cost reductions with further deployment.
  • It will also look at Engineering and environmental challenges associated with deployment and commercialisation of marine energy.
  • Finally it will review the potential for policy support for marine energy in research, development, and deployment stages.
  • In production. To contribute expertise, literature or an external reviewer please contact Thomas Hornigold.

Marine renewables, including tidal and wave power, have the potential to supply 10% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2050 without producing greenhouse gases (GHGs). However, despite an active research and industrial landscape in the UK, these technologies remain in early stages of development. This POSTnote will outline marine energy technologies, their potential role in the UK energy system, and the outstanding challenges in research and commercial deployment of marine energy.

The UK Government has committed to achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. In 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) suggested that doing so will require greater use of electricity in industry, heat production and transport, and an associated increase in zero-carbon electricity generation. Marine energy refers to capturing the energy within the motion of water – such as in waves and tidal motion – in order to generate power. Industry advocates suggest marine renewables could contribute to these goals. Tidal power, which is both renewable and predictable, may have additional benefits in allowing variable renewable sources such as wind and solar to be more easily integrated onto the grid.

The UK’s geography means that it has the largest marine energy resource in Europe. There is a corresponding research and industrial interest in marine energy in the UK, with several active wave and tidal developers as well as multiple test sites for the technologies (such as the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney). In recent years, there has been interest from a wide range of stakeholders in tidal lagoon energy, with the government-commissioned Hendry Review reporting in 2017.

Despite the potential, these technologies remain in development or limited to small-scale deployment. Challenges include engineering issues associated with operating in the marine environment, environmental concerns around the impact on marine life, and making marine energy cost-competitive with other forms of lowcarbon generation.

The aims of this POSTnote are to provide MPs and Peers with an overview setting out the different technologies that underpin marine energy, including tidal stream, tidal range, and wave power. It will focus on the potential for marine energy to contribute to the net zero target, and to a stable, low-carbon electricity supply. It will examine at recent progress in the research, development, and commercialisation of marine energy, and the potential for cost reductions with further deployment. It will also look at Engineering and environmental challenges associated with deployment and commercialisation of marine energy. Finally it will review the potential for policy support for marine energy in research, development, and deployment stages.