The advances made by solar and wind, both technically and financially, over the past two decades have been astounding. Both technologies have outperformed even the most optimistic predictions. It is interesting to note that 30 years ago very few people thought wind would ever become mainstream; 20 years ago, competitive solar energy was a pipe dream; and 10 years ago we were only beginning to scratch the surface with offshore wind. As great as these achievements have been, they all have an Achilles heel – unpredictable intermittency. The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. The heavily promoted carbon-free solution to this problem has been nuclear energy – carbon free anddteady state. Renewables has never had a strong answer to this until now. Energy harvested from tides comes with the bonus of being completely predictable – even years in advance. Enter tidal energy. This force of nature has long been pondered; if only we could harness it. Well, it’s no longer a case of ‘if’: it is already happening with many notable advances in the sector. Nova Innovation has been successfully operating its offshore tidal array (the world’s first) in Shetland for over three years. It is now a question of how quickly tidal energy technology can be rolled out on a global basis. The sun may not always shine, the wind may not always blow, but the tide does always flow and repeats with certainty every six hours. The tide has the added benefit of being completely predictable – minutes, hours, days and even years in advance. Tidal energy is a truly global opportunity and here in the UK we hold most of the aces: the tidal resource; world leading firms with the technology lead; and supply chain ready to deliver. So why is this clean predictable source of energy not mainstream across our maritime nation? The answer, in short, is lack of Government support. Wind and solar power (as well as all previous forms of generation) benefited from revenue support mechanisms that enabled the sector to install enough capacity to achieve economies of scale. This enabled costs to be slashed. Onshore wind power is now the cheapest form of electricity you can find. Tidal energy is still relatively expensive compared to wind power but it can already be cost competitive in remote locations or where diesel generation is used. Costs are coming down, and fast. However, to become mainstream, some sort of interim support mechanism is required.
Herald 7th Sept 2019 read more »
A tidal array off the coast of Normandy, France, is set to supply power to Alderney in the Channel Islands under a “landmark” green energy deal announced today by energy giant SIMEC. SIMEC, part of the GFG Alliance owned by the billionaire Gupta family, is developing tidal power off the French coast under its joint venture with Normandy’s Development Agency, called Normandie Hydroliennes (NH). It is working on proposals for a 2GW demonstration array in the Alderney Race, an eight-mile strait that runs between La Hague on the French coast and the island of Alderney.
Business Green 6th Sept 2019 read more »