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UK focus on wind and nuclear should not harm tidal energy development, says expert

1 Nov 2010

The development of offshore wind and nuclear in the UK should not be given preference to the detriment of the fledgling wave and tidal energy sectors, an industry expert told NewNet.

Ben Hamer, who is project director at Halcrow and working on developing the proposed Severn Barrage tidal energy project in UK waters, said the sectors need renewed focus from government to attract investment.

Hamer said the project is important for regeneration of the local area and also to advance the UK’s tidal energy sector.

‘We have a foothold in tidal and wave energy fields. It is very important that we don’t allow the desire to promote nuclear and wind to give the hint that we are not supporting wave and tidal just because they are in an earlier phase of development,’ he said.

The comments come ahead of the government announcing plans on how it will reform its electricity market to encourage energy companies to invest in renewable energy, which is due to take place in the first half of 2011.

‘What we are seeking to do is make sure tidal – and other renewables such as wave – are not forgotten in the wholesale review of the electricity market price system,’ he said.

‘At the moment, the National Policy Statement has excluded quite clearly tidal and wave energy from its contemplations and we are quite keen to make sure that those get built back in sooner rather than later.’

Last month, the UK government said it would not support plans to build a ten-mile tidal energy project across the Severn Estuary but Halcrow – alongside partner companies Ove Arup & Partners, Sancroft International and Marks Barfield Architects – have formed the Corlan Hafren consortium and insist it can be profitable without government’s financial backing.

Hamer said he could understand the cash-constrained government’s position but the project should be attractive enough not to drive private investment away.

‘Although one can understand the desire to steer them towards nuclear and offshore wind as two underpinning parts to our low carbon energy policy, what we don’t want them to do is drive investors to other countries,’ he said.

Copyright (c) 2010 NewNet

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