The Formation of a Domestic and International Market for Tidal Energy Technologies: the Economic Implications for the UK

Miss Michelle Gilmartin, Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde

World-wide interest in tidal power has increased in recent years, and this is particularly true in the UK, where the vast tidal energy resource around the coast is ranked among the best in the world.  An important part of the case for renewable energy is the UK-wide socio-economic opportunities that would be associated with the deployment of devices such as tidal turbines.  Domestic expenditures on research and development, production, installation and maintenance of tidal turbine devices could provide an important demand stimulus for the local, regional and national economies.  In addition, a key driver in developing the UK tidal sector is the economic gain that could flow from the export of tidal devices, technologies and expertise.

In this paper, we model the potential economic impacts associated with the deployment of tidal energy in the UK.  We use a twenty-five sector computable general equilibrium model, UKENVI, to estimate the UK benefit from a domestic and export demand stimulus to the UK tidal power industry.  In doing so, we focus on the development of the tidal industry over the eighteen year period 2008 – 2025 inclusive, and draw on a range of estimates relating to: the tidal resource capacity in UK waters; the installation timepath for domestic devices; and production and maintenance expenditures for domestic device installations.  We use export data for the Danish wind turbine industry to infer the potential export demand for UK tidal turbines.  At present, there are no examples in the literature of this kind relating to the impact of the development of a domestic and export demand for tidal turbine production.  The results of the analysis therefore provide a new and important knowledge base for policy makers and investors’ decision-making.

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