Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has challenged the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero to support an increased rollout of tidal schemes and to set a new goal of 1 gigawatt of deployed tidal stream capacity. Speaking during an Urgent Question on Tuesday afternoon on the latest round of Contracts for Different renewable energy auctions, Mr Carmichael noted the positive news of an expansion in support for tidal stream projects, including two in the Northern Isles, but pressed the minister to commit to a more ambitious expansion of wave and tidal development.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“I do want to commend the Minister for one small piece of good news in this round, which is in relation to the development of marine renewables. The success of the auction for tidal stream development illustrates what would be possible for wave power if it were to be given the same opportunity in AR6.
“But for tidal stream, does the Minister agree that what is now needed is the 1 gigawatt target for deployment? Will he work with me and other people in the House with an interest in this and the marine renewables sector itself to deliver that ahead of AR6?”
Responding, the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart MP said:
“May I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman? I met him in his constituency when I visited the European Marine Energy Centre and saw for myself some of the projects in the water. I am personally determined to ensure that tidal stream continues to grow. We maintain our global leadership, with a very high percentage UK supply chain as a further positive to it.
“He tempts me to get ahead of myself on policy [on the gigawatt target], but I cannot do that. However, what we are doing and what our dedicated pot this year did is further strengthen that so that we can get in a position where that might be a realistic policy position to take.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“There is plenty to criticise in the government’s energy policy, but the support and expansion of tidal stream is a genuine success story – and one which has the potential to drive significant benefits for our communities.
“The one thing we cannot do is rest on our laurels. This is a highly competitive area of green growth. The bolder we are with our targets for tidal stream the faster we can build up supply chains and jobs and make the most of this success – that is the goal ministers have to keep firmly in sight.”