Annual Report 2016
Country Reports


Henry Jeffrey The University of Edinburgh


2016 has been another active year for the ocean energy sector in the United Kingdom (UK). Several significant and internationally relevant developments have been made across the wave, tidal stream and tidal range segments, while the political and regulatory setting for the sector has continued to evolve. The promise of ocean energy remains strong and there is potential for wave and tidal energy to contribute significantly to the UK’s electricity supply in the run up to 2050, subject to reducing costs and achieving competitiveness with alternative technologies.

Following several years which have been characterised by retrenchment, the UK wave energy sector is refocussing and engaging in targeted research and development to optimise technologies and move towards convergence of design and commercialisation. This approach is epitomised by Wave Energy Scotland (WES), a Scottish government funded technology development programme which has so far awarded £15m to 51 technology development projects in the areas of power take-offs (PTOs), novel devices and structural materials & manufacturing processes.

Tidal Stream
The UK’s tidal stream sector made significant progress towards commercialisation in 2016, with a number of turbine deployments including two at array scale. The MeyGen project in Scotland’s Pentland Firth is close to completing construction of Phase 1A of the project, involving 4 turbines and a capacity of 6MW. Long-term plans for MeyGen allow for up to 398 MW within the next decade. Meanwhile, Nova Innovation began exporting power to the grid following the successful installation and operation of 2 turbines off the coast of Scotland’s Shetland Isles. Following the award of funding under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, Nova intend to further develop the Shetland array in 2017.

Tidal Range
Policy in relation to tidal lagoons developed significantly in 2016 with a government commissioned review of the strategic role of tidal lagoons in the UK, led by former energy minister Charles Hendry. A final report was published in January 2017 and supports the development of tidal lagoons, highlighting the benefits of a “pathfinder” project ahead of a wider programme. A Government response to the Hendry Review is anticipated in due course. The proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project continues to move through the consenting process with a view to begin construction in 2018.