Carmichael renews call for 1 gigawatt tidal stream energy target

20 Oct 2023

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has renewed calls for a 1 gigawatt target for the rollout of tidal stream renewable energy in a debate in Parliament. Speaking in Westminster Hall on Wednesday on the issue of “Contracts for Difference” renewable support, Mr Carmichael highlighted the business case progress that the European Marine Energy Centre has been able to make as a result of CfD support and noted that tidal stream is the only renewable category without a government target to spur growth. He also called for renewed efforts in the development of wave power.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:

“I will focus on the development of marine renewables. That is something in which I have had 20-plus years of involvement, and it is important to my constituency, playing host as we do not just to the European Marine Energy Centre, but to a number of successful projects in the AR4 and AR5 rounds. The decision to include in AR4 a ringfenced pot of £20 million for tidal stream energy generation was absolutely transformative for the industry.

“I was in a call with EMEC this morning, and they were talking about how the development that we have had as a consequence of AR4, and now AR5, has helped them to grow their business case. There are still issues that have to be dealt with but that shows what is possible when the right decisions are made here.

“There [also] has to be a route to market for wave power. The lesson of AR4 and AR5 and the ringfenced pot for tidal stream is that the mechanism works. If it can work for tidal stream, surely it can work for wave power as well.”

Responding later in the debate, the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart MP said:

“I pay tribute to Mr Carmichael for his doughty support for the sector. I did not realise that his involvement had stretched to 20 years, but when I visited his constituency he was there to characteristically champion the industry.

“Like him, I am proud of the fact that we have been able to see it come on, and see some of the developments in his constituency. The hope to see those operationalised and scaled up here in the UK, with a big and strong domestic supply chain, is one that gives real optimism for the future.”

Mr Carmichael asked:

“On the point of the 1 gigabit target [for tidal stream] by 2035, does the Minister not take on board the fact that this is now the only technology that does not have such a target? This is an opportunity to engage in a way that works to his advantage by restoring some of the damaged engagement credibility.”

The minister responded:

“The right hon. Gentleman, as so often, makes a very strong argument. We will continue to engage and will come forward with any decision on that in due course, if that was thought appropriate.”