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Collaboration is key to continued growth of the UK's offshore renewable industry

BY CHRIS JARVIS. Research conducted at Wave & Tidal 2015, held in Edinburgh in February, reveals that industry experts fear the UK offshore renewables sector is not making the most of its current leading global position in the field. 1 Furthermore, observers say, the sector risks being overtaken by its international competitors if improvements are not made to both the funding of projects and cohesion between regional organisations.

Among the highlights of the research:

Acquiring funding is perceived to be the biggest challenge to the industry over the next five years, with 42% of respondents citing access to public sector funds and 29% citing access to private funds as the greatest challenge. A fifth of respondents (22%), meanwhile, believe that Government policy will be the biggest challenge.

However, there is an underlying desire from all parties to work together to form a unified UK offshore renewables offering to ensure that the UK maintains its global standing at the forefront of development of marine renewable energy technology.
“The consensus amongst industry experts appears to be that the UK wave and tidal energy sector – whilst still a global leader in its field – is far too fragmented to be able to maintain this current position,” said Stuart Farmer, ORDP programme manager, Cornwall Council. “Although there are exciting projects based around the UK, the lack of a cohesive strategy across all national projects is creating a barrier to success and the industry needs to work together to govern its direction to maximise the huge potential and prospective output.

‘By working under a single UK banner the industry would be able to maximise investment, accelerate technological advances and reduce overall risk.”

Additional findings show that nearly two-thirds (61%) of respondents believe that the deployment of an array would help build market confidence in the sector. This is followed by significant electrical generation onto a grid network (18%) and the successful deployment of a singular device (9%).
The newly released research also underlined the feeling that the UK could lose ground on international competitors. More than two-thirds (69%) of respondents believe that the UK is not currently doing enough to maintain its position as a global leader in offshore renewables, compared to just one in seven (15%) who believe that it is. The UK’s main competitor is thought to be France (74%), followed by Canada and Scandinavia (10% each).
Johnny Gowdy, director of Regen SW and programme manager at South West Marine Energy Park, noted: “As the international market for offshore renewable energy grows, it is imperative that the UK maintains its leadership position for innovation and technology development. We would therefore encourage the Government to support the industry within the UK by creating a clear route to market for wave and tidal energy technologies and providing funding support to enable the deployment of demonstration and pilot projects.”

1. Research conducted amongst 41 industry professionals at Wave & Tidal 2015, held at the EICC between 25th and 26th February 2015

Posted 16/04/2015 by Reg Tucker

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