The urgent call by RenewableUK, Britains leading renewable energy trade association, for financial support from the Government for the fast-growing marine energy sector has received widespread support from MPs and leading figures in the industry.
Renewable UKs latest report Wave and Tidal Energy in the UK shows that the sector has the potential to employ 10,000 people and generate revenues of nearly £4bn per year by 2020. But uncertainty over the future levels of financial support from the Government has prompted renewed calls from those within the industry for a clear commitment from Westminster.
The Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, Niall Stuart, said: The biggest barrier to us converting our early lead into a commercial-scale industry is funding, and while greater levels of private sector capital are coming into the sector all the time, the UK Government must take a share in the development costs of new technologies if it wants to secure the massive environmental, economic and employment gains that this new sector offers. With the huge potential export market available, that investment could be repaid many times over through the sectors future contribution to the economy and efforts to decarbonise the electricity sector. The sums the industry needs to get to the next level of deployment are tiny in the context of public expenditure, but government support could make a massive difference to the development of the industry and to communities and regional economies around our coastline.
MPs from all parties have been quick to add their voices of support for funding for the marine energy sector. The Chair of the Liberal Democrats Energy Committee, Andrew George said: "It's time for Britain to scale up and meet the challenge. Wave and tidal power represents our biggest as yet unharnessed energy resource. We have already allowed our chances in other leading renewable sectors to slip from our hands. Let's not allow this to happen again with wave and tidal power. The next few years will prove crucial."
The Shadow Energy Minister, Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies, said: This is a golden moment for wave and tidal energy in the UK, but the Government is in danger of watching it pass by. We could lead the world by harnessing the abundant natural resources of our island nations, develop the UK as the global centre for innovation and export of marine energy technologies, and create thousands of real green jobs. Or we can wave goodbye to green jobs and green energy as they depart for other countries. I urge the government to turn their promises into action, and to do it now.