Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Forward Scotland

  Forward Scotland is a leading Scottish Sustainable Development organisation and as such has a keen interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency as important factors in our overall efforts toward sustainable development. I enclose a copy of our own Annual Review for your information[3].

  Regarding wave and tidal energy:

    —  Forward Scotland is a member of the Wave Commission; a cross-sectorial group focused on meeting the challenges inherent in the development of wave energy.

    —  Forward Scotland is a member of the Scottish Parliament Renewable Energy Group established to address the challenges inherent in the establishment of renewable energy technologies. This of course includes wave and tidal energies among others.

    —  Forward Scotland is a key member of the Islay Development Company, which has played a role in the establishment of the world's first commercial prototype onshore wave energy device.

  Forward Scotland has no special technical knowledge in the field of wave or tidal energy and so I am uncertain whether this letter will constitute evidence in the committee's terms. I would, however, like to make three main observations.

    —  The establishment of the wave device on Islay follows earlier technical trials which proved the technology viable.

  The extent to which the technology becomes commercially viable will depend on a number of factors: including relative price per generated unit of electricity and the capital cost of development.

  With the establishment of this wave device, Scotland, and indeed Great Britain, is the world leader in this technology. This lead will need to be supported if it is not to be lost to others interested in this technology. The research and development and physical infrastructure must be developed to support this emerging market technology so that wave energy technology becomes a major UK export.

  Questions on the development of the technology as an industrial sector are sometimes limited to the availability of the grid to take power from the periphery to the centre. The utility of the grid in this respect is an important medium term consideration. However, it must be considered somewhat separately from the pressing need to support the development of wave and tidal energy as emerging industries with their potential for research and development, employment, export and so on.

    —  Consideration should be given to a stronger role for wave and tidal energy. The potential energy contained in the sea off Britain's coast is enormous. The potential off the coast of Islay alone is estimated at 225 mg watts.

    —  An important consideration here is that wave devices have a small and unobtrusive footprint compared to other energy technologies. Onshore wave devices have no impact on shipping and are barely visible except from close quarters.

  To summarise, Great Britain now has the potential to consolidate its potential as a world leader in this field. The benefits will include a growing export industry, new jobs, a more sustainable energy supply and increased respect for Great Britain from abroad.

3   Not printed. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 8 May 2001