We often see a lot of headlines about new projects and new funding packages in Wales and Scotland (which we will come onto in this blog series), but the news regarding England often feels less prevalent. Is there fundamentally less activity in the sector in England, or is it just not as widely publicised?
Starting at a fundamental level, are the renewable energy sources available in England to the same degree as Scotland and Wales? In short, the answer is largely yes.
Solar radiation is similar across the UK, with southern parts of the UK unsurprisingly fairing the best.
Tidal resources often focus on channels between islands, of which there are many in the Scottish Islands of Orkney and Shetland, but there are similar places in England around the Isle of Wight and let's not forget the Bristol Channel is home to the second largest tidal range in the world.
Wave resource around the UK is best on any coast exposed to the Atlantic, in which case large proportions of England are shielded by Ireland, or indeed the land mass of the UK (eastern seaboard).
Wind resource has been the topic of many a study around all parts of the UK. Whilst there are many Scottish offshore wind farms, there are also many sites off East Anglia, Rampion in the South East and between the Northern coast of Wales and up the Western coast to Cumbria. More recently there has been a study (link) into floating wind in the Celtic Sea around the South West of England (and parts of Wales).
Source: Marine Energy Wales
So, fundamentally the resource is there. However, the support mechanisms for marine renewables have not been there in abundance hence the limited deployment of tidal and wave energy devices at sites in England. Interestingly this has led to sites such as WaveHub in Cornwall refocusing on floating wind, rather than providing a test site purely for wave energy devices.
The Floating Wind in the Celtic Sea project is something Marine-I are very keen for the South West and in particular Cornish supply chains to be involved with. This is perhaps one of the more influential and sustained renewables focused support schemes seen in England for some time. Floating wind is a fantastic opportunity for the established renewables supply chain in the South West and those with transferable skills from other industries.
In terms of marine renewables, they are still at a stage where some support is required and so, they look toward regional development funds and other support mechanisms. The establishment of an Isle of Wight tidal test site would also be very well received and has been seriously discussed in the past. It is possible that growth in all forms of renewables in England will arise off the back of the developments in floating wind in the South West and as we head toward 2030 and 2050 emissions targets - we hope this is the case.