Show Hide image

UK offshore energy resources hold key to low carbon future says report

Harnessing the UK’s abundant wind, tidal and wave resources could hold the key to tackling the UK’s

Using offshore resources could also make a contribution to the economy with the creation of over 40,000 jobs, the report published by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has said. According to ICE, the UK possesses some of the richest wave, tidal and wind resources in the world, with the potential to provide up to half of the UK's current energy demands as well as create a major new industrial sector, with significant export potential.

ICE's report 'Offshore Renewables: Unlocking the Potential' says the rapid up-scaling of these resources, on a similar scale to that experienced by the North Sea oil and gas sector in the 60's and 70's, could provide the solution to the security of supply crisis the UK currently faces. Over one third of UK's power plants are due to close by 2025, which equates to a loss of 30GW of electricity. At the same time, UK urgently needs to decarbonize its energy supply to meet pressing environmental targets.

In January, this year, the third round of tenders for offshore wind sites was unveiled, representing over £100bn of private investment and 32GW of projects. If achieved, these projects, combined with advances in wave and tidal energy generation, could contribute significantly to plugging the energy gap faced by the UK.

However, ICE warns that to deliver on such a massive scale industry requires a secure commercial environment within which companies can invest with confidence. Richard Coackley, vice president of ICE, said: "The UK energy sector needs to undergo a radical transformation to have any hope of meeting future demand in an environmentally sustainable way, and exploiting our offshore energy resources will be key.

"It is unclear currently exactly how we are going to deliver on this opportunity within such a narrow timeframe. Although government has already begun putting the framework in place we urgently need to ramp up progress and set a clear agenda for the full-scale expansion of the sector."
He added, "Whichever way you look at it offshore wind, wave and tidal energy will play a vital role in meeting demand for sustainable energy in the future."

Professor AbuBakr Bahaj looks beyond wind, surveying the progress in the infant tidal and wave energy sectors. He said that UK waters contain a potential for 0.25TW of resource, which if one tenth was exploited, would equate to around half of the nation's current electricity consumption.