The Scottish government has resurrected a £10 million fund to support the commercial deployment of tidal energy projects.
The fund was originally launched in 2008, offering £10 million to first team to generate 100GWh of wave or tidal power within a period of two years, but closed in 2017 after no one claimed the prize.
The scheme was relaunched yesterday (10 February) as the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund by Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, who said: “The industry has taken momentous steps forward in recent years, and we are proud to have supported that, but the path to commercialisation is taking longer, and proving more difficult, than initially expected.
“The investment climate has been harmed by the UK government’s decision in 2016 to remove a ring-fenced subsidy for marine energy and by the parallel uncertainties caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
“The Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund therefore provides a timely and appropriate approach for the Scottish government to support the current needs of the sector and to help ensure Scotland’s huge marine energy potential is realised”.
By reducing the per megawatt-hour cost of generating electricity from Scottish tidal projects, the goal is to enable such schemes to compete more effectively when bidding in Contracts for Difference auctions against more established technologies like offshore wind.
The fund will be open to applications until 6 December, but successful projects must be ready to deploy in Scottish waters by the end of March 2020.
Wave energy projects will not be eligible to participate as they were for the previous version of the scheme. The Scottish government has already committed £30 million to Wave Energy Scotland and is due to allocate another £10 million to the organisation in the upcoming financial year.
Responding to the announcement, Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Hannah Smith, said: “The Scottish government’s commitment to supporting marine energy, both wave and tidal, has helped Scotland lead the world in the development of devices and projects which harness the energy contained in our seas.
“This new fund will help tidal energy developers innovate and lower costs – crucial when many are deploying devices which can already reliably produce electricity, but which are locked out of the energy market because they must compete with technologies like offshore wind, which has secured support to deploy at scale and deliver staggering cost reductions.
“It is important that any package of support recognises both the need to fund innovation in this promising sector and the commercial realities faced by developers.”