New research conducted by Invest in Cornwall has underlined the need for greater regional cooperation among offshore renewables projects.
Acquiring funding is perceived to be the biggest challenge to the industry over the next five years, with 42% of respondents citing access to public sector funds and 29% pointing to access to private funds as the greatest challenge.
A fifth of respondents (22%), meanwhile, believe that Government policy will be the biggest challenge.
However, there is an underlying desire from all parties to work together to form a unified UK offshore renewables offering to ensure that the UK maintains its global standing at the forefront of development of marine renewable energy technology.
Stuart Farmer, ORDP programme manager at Cornwall Council, said: “The consensus amongst industry experts appears to be that the UK wave and tidal energy sector – whilst still a global leader in its field – is far too fragmented to be able to maintain this current position.
“Although there are exciting projects based around the UK, the lack of a cohesive strategy across all national projects is creating a barrier to success and the industry needs to work together to govern its direction to maximise the huge potential and prospective output.”
Nearly two thirds (61%) of respondents believed that the deployment of an array would help build market confidence in the sector. This is followed by significant electrical generation onto a grid network (18%) and the successful deployment of a singular device (9%).
The research also underlined the feeling that the UK could lose ground on international competitors. More than two thirds (69%) of respondents believe that the UK is not currently doing enough to maintain its position as a global leader in offshore renewables, compared to just one in seven (15%) who believe that it is. The UK’s main competitor is thought to be France (74%) followed by Canada and Scandinavia (10% each).
Johnny Gowdy, director of Regen SW and programme manager at South West Marine Energy Park, added: “As the international market for offshore renewable energy grows it is imperative that the UK maintains its leadership position for innovation and technology development.
“We would therefore encourage the Government to support the industry within the UK by creating a clear route to market for wave and tidal energy technologies and providing funding support to enable the deployment of demonstration and pilot projects.”