Bridging the gap – Market interventions for commercial marine energy deployments

Mr Philip Thies, University of Exeter, 22/09/12

In the UK as much as 17% of the electricity demand (58 TWh/a out of 340 TWh/a) could be provided by wave energy [1] and there are strong economic reasons to pursue this potential:

  1. Increase in the security of energy supply
  2. Contribution to reach CO2 targets
  3. Opportunity to spawn economic growth, i.e. creation of domestic and export markets.

However, the marine renewable energy sector is still in a transition from the R&D development phase to commercially funded large scale projects. A key issue that has to be addressed is the reliability and availability of devices. Both needs to be demonstrated to convince stakeholders, attract investment and ensure project viability. The intention of the proposed paper is to review the often denounced failure of funding policy, leading to a funding gap between initial proof of concept testing and full-scale testing. A number of stakeholders, e.g. project developers, manufacturing companies, investors and insurance companies depend on the reliability of devices.

Such tests are used in many other industries, but are only sparsely applied in the marine energy sector. The paper further aims to discuss to what extent the recently announced and awarded Marine Renewables Proving Fund by the Carbon Trust can foster the transition towards commercial deployment and if other instruments of energy policy might be useful. Historical interventions to accelerate deployment activities in the energy sector range from strongly regressive feed-in tariffs to governmental sponsorship of spearhead programs.


[1] Carbon Trust (2006). Future marine energy. Results of the Marine Energy Challenge: Cost competitiveness and growth of wave and tidal stream energy


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