UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said today that the news of Pelamis Wave Power filing for administration and Siemens deciding to sell Marine Current Turbines “are stark reminders of how fragile and young” the marine energy industry is.
Last week Pelamis announced that it was going into administration because it had been unable to secure funding to further develop its wave energy technology.
And this week Siemens said it was to sell Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines because of the slow pace of investment in tidal energy.
"A dedicated tidal power industry of critical size will develop in the near future," Siemens said in a statement. "But due to the limited resources it would be a niche market for Siemens."
Speaking today at the International Tidal Energy Summit in London, Davey said that the Pelamis news “shows that risk aversion has real, and potentially devastating, effects on companies”.
“This is always hugely disappointing for all concerned – but we need to secure all the lessons and know-how the team at Pelamis developed.”
He said he was equally disappointed about Siemens’ decision not to take forward MCT.
“Having visited MCT myself, I had felt that the deployment of more of their tidal stream devices was just a matter of time,” Davey told delegates. “MCT had gathered the most operational experience of tidal stream in the whole industry.
“So I sincerely hope Siemens will do their utmost to ensure that MCT’s, expertise and know-how are appropriately managed and transferred so that they can continue to benefit this industry.”
He added that “such recent developments are – if we ever needed them – stark reminders of how fragile and young the industry is”.
However Davey remained upbeat about the prospects for wave and tidal power in the UK.
“We have put in place arguably the strongest policy framework of support anywhere in the world and it is this framework that attracts the best scientific minds, the best engineers working in the field and has attracted at least some of the capital investment needed.”
He said tidal power “has the potential to contribute significantly to Britain’s energy security and provide predictable clean energy” and “tidal power could be one of the cornerstones of the global low-carbon economy that we need to develop if we are to tackle the growing threat of climate change”.
“If we can bring this industry to commercial realisation, it will be a gift to world.”