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Progress on developing wave and tidal power too slow

Research and development into wave and tidal power is far too slow, according to the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB), which advises the government on green energy policy.

While the RAB consider that the UK is a world leader in wave and tidal power, the technologies need more support.

Commenting on the report, Chair of the RAB marine group Andrew Mill said: "To understand why progress has been slower than anticipated we wanted to get the input from a number of the key stakeholders. We also wanted the report to be evidence based.

"Progress aside, it is vital that we continue to aggressively pursue these technologies, through better and more focused R&D as they remain technologies that offer great potential in the longer term. To this end we are working with the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) to ensure that the outputs from the RAB marine study are used to help develop/focus the ETI's new wave and tidal programme," he said.

The report concluded that:

- The UK marine renewable energy sector has achieved much, with a number of prototypes being developed and tested in the marine environment. The UK is regarded as the world-leader in this field and has in place a comprehensive set of policy measures to support the development of these technologies.

- The technical challenges, particularly of operating in a marine environment, are great and perhaps more difficult than originally expected. Also, there has been some over-optimism in the industry, leading to raised expectations.

- Projects have not yet reached the point where they are ready for demonstration in a fully commercial environment, but some technologies are expected to achieve this within the next year. R&D projects are taking longer and costing more and have not yet established the current cost of energy of wave and tidal stream.

- More can be done by Government to help ensure that its R&D programmes help technology developers deliver the extended, continuous deployment of prototype technologies that was originally planned, to ensure co-operation and information exchange where this is possible, and to obtain and publish data from R&D projects.

- The Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF) should be retained to support the demonstration of leading technologies. In light of experience since the introduction of the scheme, some changes to the eligibility criteria and level of support under the MRDF would be helpful to increase the likelihood of projects being established.

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