The Renewable Energy Association (REA) is expressing disappointment that Government plans for a Wave and Tidal Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for England and Wales are merely a screening exercise to determine if it was necessary.
“It’s good that Government seems to recognise the need for an SEA but we’d rather have heard that the work was actually going to start,” said Steph Merry, REA’s head of marine renewable energy. “The screening exercise is an unfortunate delay and the timescale needs to be expedited.”
The REA has been calling for a Wave and Tidal SEA, to ensure urgently required long-term leases can be granted for marine renewable developments on a commercial scale. Under present conditions, the Crown Estate will grant short-term leases only for demonstration projects no larger than 10 megawatts. This offers practically no incentive to major investment or large utilities, according to the REA.
In Scotland, where the government has already carried out an SEA, the Crown Estate has been able to open bidding in the Penland Firth resulting in 38 proposals for tidal devices up to 300 megawatts in size. Previously, only offshore wind, oil and gas have been subject to a SEA in England and Wales.
“An SEA would make a huge difference to the development of commercial-scale wet renewables in England and Wales,” Merry said. “The UK is currently a world leader in the development of wave and tidal stream devices. It is imperative that we keep hold of that lead in order to meet our renewable energy targets and to ensure jobs and investment in UK manufacturing now and in the future.”