Wave and tidal energy are, subjectively, both abundant and powerful sources of natural energy. Despite this “common sense”observation, they are both at a very early stage of development when compared to the other marine based renewable energy, offshore wind energy. Individual offshore wind projects are sized in GW, yet the total global wave energy deployment to date is only a few MW, tidal energy maybe a few tens of MW.
Both wave and tidal energy have been researched in great detail over the years, most notably, for wave energy, during the UK wave energy programme of the late 1970s. Around the same time, the development of tidal barrages in locations such as the River Severn was investigated. More recently, government and commercial research has switched to tidal stream technologies, with prototypes now starting to be deployed. The costs of these technologies are at present several times that of offshore wind.
Even if these developments do succeed in driving costs down to a competitive level, the resources for both wave energy and tidal energy are more limited and localised than for offshore wind.
Key learning objectives:
Define WealthTech and its future drivers
Explain why wave energy is much less commercialised than wind and solar energy
Explain the difference between tidal barrages and tidal stream technologies
Contrast the cost differential between wave, tidal and offshore wind energies