Belfast Telegraph

Conference to explore global wave and tidal energy market

By Clare Weir

The UK is expected to capture about 25% of a global wave and tidal market, worth an estimated £9bn a year by 2050, a major renewables conference in Belfast will hear today.

With over 500 participants and more than 30 exhibitors, RenewableUK's Wave and Tidal Conference and Exhibition, coming to Northern Ireland for the first time this week, is the largest event of its kind not only in the UK, but throughout the world.

Keynote speakers at the event in the Waterfront include Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Scottish energy minister, Fergus Ewing, and UK energy minister, Gregory Barker. The UK's wave and tidal energy sector already employs 1,724 people, expected to increase to 6,000 by 2023, and more devices to generate clean electricity from wave and tidal energy have been installed around these islands than the rest of the world put together.

Installed capacity is set to increase from 9.3 megawatts (MW) at present to 100-200MW by 2020.

In Northern Ireland, projects include the SeaGen 1.2MW tidal energy converter, installed in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland in 2008. Delegates were invited to take tours of both Strangford Lough and Belfast Harbour while in town. As well as major opportunities for UK companies involved in the industry, there are also huge benefits for the supply chain with potential for exports. The French government is currently investing €200m (£165m) in developing tidal arrays (a group of devices in the water) including facilities in the port of Cherbourg to service the arrays.

Among the topics being discussed are funding, planning, infrastructure and developing a healthy supply chain.

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