Speaking today at the RukWave and Tidal conference in London, Greg Barker, the minister for Climate Change, gave some insights into the future level of government support for the nascent UK marine power industry.
He assured delegates that 'the Coalition is absolutely committed to harnessing the complete range of benefits which a successful marine renewables industry can bring to the UK -- the development of the sector is explicitly written into the fabric of the Coalition Agreement.'
Mr Barker went on to say that: 'We are already consulting on whether to offer generators a choice of ROCs or a new Feed-in-Tariff mechanism between introduction of the Electricity Markets Review legislation in 2013 or 14 and 2017. This will give marine generators access to this new form of FITs from the start, providing added certainty and a more stable revenue stream.'
He explained that 'It will take a little while before the new FITs are in place and the marine sector needs confidence that appropriate support will be in place before that to ensure that longer-term investments are made. Clearly the longer-term future of the sector is tied up with the new FITs. But we will address this immediate issue through the review of the current Renewables Obligation. We have already significantly speeded-up the RO review which is looking at ROC levels out to 2017. This means investors will have certainty over support a full year earlier than previously planned -- with a Government response this Autumn and legislation in place from April 2012. The evidence obtained from across the marine industry will feed into the decisions made on changes to the ROC levels and will help us to make informed decisions about the rates of support.
Speaking further on the issue of support for the marine sector, the minister explained that 'Before deciding what support we will provide to marine and to other important technologies I want to be sure we understand what the innovation needs truly are and how the government and the private sector can best act together to address them.
'With the Minister of State for Universities and Science I co-chair the Low Carbon Innovation Group that brings together the key government bodies supporting low carbon innovation so we can ensure they are acting in concert. That group has been developing Technology Innovation Needs Assessments -- 'TINAs' -- pooling their knowledge and developing a shared analysis of the innovation needs of a range of key low carbon technology families -- such as Off-shore wind, Marine energy and Bio-energy. This will give us an indication of where the market failures are. I am hoping that the Marine Energy Programme working group on finance will be able to participate in the stakeholder workshop on the marine TINA.'
'Over the next few months my officials will be inviting a range of stakeholders to contribute to that analysis so we can ensure it's a strong basis for decisions. My colleagues and I will weigh that evidence when deciding what support we can provide to which technologies. Decisions will be made in light of the outcome of that work. I expect to be saying more in a few months time.'