A group of 91 MPs have signed a letter to energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry petitioning the government to provide ring-fenced subsidies for wave and tidal power.

The letter, written by Conservative MP Richard Graham, says support for marine energy could help grow the UK economy by billions of pounds and bring thousands of new jobs, mostly in coastal areas in need of regeneration.

“Success in other low-carbon sectors shows that the best way to bring down costs is by deploying technology, learning lessons and continuing to innovative,” the letter explains.

“As currently set up, the contracts for difference (CfD) auctions are not a mechanism that will support marine renewables – or any new renewable technology – as they seek to secure the early-stage investment in smaller-scale projects that will drive technology down the cost curve to full commercial competitiveness.

“However, the CfD mechanism could be reformed to include a restricted, but competitive, pool of allocated funding for marine technologies.”

The letter cites a report by the Highland and Islands Enterprise, Regen and Marine Energy Pembrokeshire that estimated the global market for marine renewables could be worth £76 billion by 2050. It warns that the UK faces growing competition from countries like Canada, the US and China, where government support is available.

Graham, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons, said: “Marine energy is an innovative, world-class industry in which the UK is a global leader. We have an unparalleled resource with 50 per cent of Europe’s tidal energy and 35 per cent of its wave energy. It is time to grasp the opportunity in front of us, as the government has with offshore wind.

“Right now people are clamouring for more action on climate change. Marine energy provides a perfect opportunity for the government to show that it is listening.

“To ensure the industry keeps growing, marine energy needs a route to market. The right kind of support will enable firms to take investment decisions which will ensure we retain our advantage – otherwise it will slip away to international competitors. We need to secure the UK’s pole position as a leading exporter of marine technology around the world, capturing the lion’s share of the global market.”

Renewable UK deputy chief executive Emma Pinchbeck: “Public support for wave and tidal power hit an all-time high this week, with 82 per cent of people backing it. We need to scale-up our renewable capacity massively right now to meet our carbon reduction targets. The industry stands ready to deliver but we need action from ministers to get our innovative, world-leading technology deployed at scale.”