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Government to fathom depth of marine energy potential

Government to fathom depth of marine energy potentialNew study to provide government with data on how much renewable power the

seas could generate(by Tom Young, via BusinessGreen)A new government-commissioned study is to examine the full energy potential

of English and Welsh waters, as part of ongoing efforts to accelerate the

development and deployment of wave and tidalgeneration technologies.The new study, which will be carried out by environmental consultancies AEA

and Hartley Anderson, will seek input from developers, utilities and small

businesses about how and where they plan to install marine renewable energy

projects.Speaking at the British Wind Energy Agency (BWEA) tidal and wave conference

earlier today, energy minister Lord Hunt said the study marked a

"significant step forward" in the government's plans to bolster the UK's

marine energy sector, adding that it came at "a pivotal stage" for the

emerging industry as growing numbers of firms deliver devices that are

ready to be deployed."The screening exercise will allow us to better understand the energy

potential of marine energy devices and the realistic timescale of when

multiple devices will be installed and commissioned," he said.The government said that the results of the preliminary study will be used

to decide whether or not a full-scale Strategic Environment Assessment

(SEA) is required for English and Welsh waters, in addition to the SEAs

that have already been carried out off the coast of Scotland and in the

Severn Estuary.However, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) expressed disappointment at

the move, arguing that there was no need for a screening exercise and that

a full SEA should be given the go-ahead straight away. "It's good that

government seems to recognise the need for an SEA but we'd rather have

heard that the work was actually going to start," said Steph Merry, head of

marine renewable energy at the REA. "The screening exercise is an

unfortunate delay and the timescale needs to be expedited."Scientists and engineers have long argued that the UK has some of the

richest marine energy resources in the world, and the country is already

home to a number of the world's leading marine energy firms.Previous studies have suggested that tidal technologies in the Severn

Estuary could generate five per cent of the UK's electricity, while

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond recently delivered a high-profile

commitment to make Scotland the "Saudi Arabia of marine energy".The REA said that under present English and Welsh rules The Crown Estate,

which manages UK marine resources, will only grant short-term leases for

demonstration projects no larger than 10MW, effectively blocking larger

developments. In contrast, the Scottish government has followed its SEA by

opening bidding in the Penland Firth for tidal devices up to 300MW in size."An SEA would make a huge difference to the development of commercial-scale

wet renewables in England and Wales," said Merry. "The UK is currently a

world leader in the development of waveand tidal stream devices. It is

imperative that we keep hold of that lead in order to meet our renewable

energy targets and to ensure jobs and investment in UK manufacturing now

and in the future."A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that there

was no fixed date for a report, but that the screening exercise would take

about six months.For the latest marine, tidal and wave energy jobs in the UK and globally,

please click here