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UK wave pushed 'too soon'

New report critical of pressure for early commercialisation of sector

UK wave pushed 'too soon' image

The UK wave energy sector’s failure to progress towards market readiness can be attributed in part to a premature emphasis on commercialisation, according to a new report.

The report published by Imperial College London and University of Strathclyde said the requirement for state-supported developers to secure private-sector match funding had brought “intense investor pressure to reach commercialisation as quickly as possible”.

It makes 10 policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the UK’s future support for wave energy, including retaining access to EU research and development (R&D) funding post-Brexit.

The paper also calls for a long-term wave energy strategy focused on Scotland, improving coordination of R&D support across government and avoiding competition for subsidies with more established technologies, such as offshore wind.

It was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Strathclyde Business School and the International Public Policy Institute asks for support for the formation of niche market for wave, such as off-grid islands.

“The report points towards two weaknesses in wave innovation that can be remedied: first the lack of convergence on a dominant design that has been the key to success for other renewable technologies.

“Second, fragmentation of support across many overlapping schemes,” said Professor of sustainable energy at Imperial College London's Centre for Environmental Policy Jim Skea.

Scottish Renewables policy manager Hannah Smith added: “We need government to provide a viable mechanism to ensure the sector’s continued development.

“A failure to do so would risk losing Scotland’s lead in this global industry – and the consequent loss of economic and environmental benefits to UK plc.”

Image: P2 wave device (Pelamis)

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