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Tidal Energy

Volume 576: debated on Thursday 27 February 2014

The coalition Government recognise the huge potential for tidal energy in the UK, and have put unprecedented resource and effort into supporting the UK marine energy sector as a whole. This week in Belfast I chaired a meeting of the Marine Energy Programme Board, which regularly brings together all the major companies and entrepreneurs in this exciting sector in which the UK leads the world.

Given the regularity, the predictability and, as we have seen lately, the strength of the tides round these islands, is it not about time we had something like a national policy statement on tidal energy to get investment going in what could be a very important sector?

I fully share my hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for tidal technology. It has huge potential in UK waters and my hon. Friend is right, as usual. A national policy statement is the next logical step for the industry, once it can demonstrate that it can deploy at scale commercially and economically, ideally above 50 MW. I am determined to work closely with the sector to make that happen.

I am sure that like me, the Minister would welcome a decision by the Scottish Government this week to grant £2 million to a tidal power global engineering hub in Edinburgh. Following the decisions about carbon capture and storage this week and earlier grants from DECC for wave energy in my constituency, does the Minister agree that the interests of the Scottish renewables industry are best served by the two Governments working together, with unlimited access to the UK-wide market, rather than any separation between the two countries?

Absolutely. Undoubtedly we are better together, and the fact that we are seeing increased co-operation between the UK marine energy park in Cornwall and the south-west and the Scottish marine energy park in the waters of the Pentland firth is a clear demonstration of how, together, we are much greater than the sum of our parts.

Following the Minister’s last reply, he will be aware that the UK is the global leader in wave energy, especially in relation to the wave park project off the north Cornwall coast. What can he say to ensure that we retain that position, bearing in mind that research and development in this field is measured in decades?

My hon. Friend is right. We are leading the global race in wave and tidal energy, and we are seeing increased inward investment into the UK by major international firms that want to be part of the development of the UK marine sector. The marine energy park in the south-west has a key part to play in that. I am delighted with the positive news about Wave Hub and the berths there, and we can look for more positive news as a result of the substantial resource that this Government have put into the sector.