A SCOTTISH engineering group has called on the UK and Scottish governments to create “crucial connections” to help steer the commercial future of wave and tidal stream energy.

The call comes after “two decades in which government incentives have failed to produce commercially viable projects”, though trials involving various prototypes are continuing, in particular around the Pentland Firth.

In a submission to a UK Government consultation, Glasgow-based Malin Group said these efforts will only succeed if “linked to domestic manufacturing capacity with marine experience in order to turn good ideas into technology capable of operating in challenging conditions”.

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The consultation is around the future of Contracts for Difference (CofD), the auction mechanism used to subsidise renewable technologies.

It proposes separating offshore wind, now considered a mature technology, from others including floating wind, solar, biomass, wave and tidal stream.

However, the Malin Group submission states: “In the case of wave and tidal stream, the persistent problem has been in reaching the stage of commercial deployment. Before these are in a position to compete for CofD with more advanced technologies, it is essential they are nurtured and encouraged to the point of commercial deployment.

“As an example of a realistic way forward for these technologies, we support a proposal which has been advanced by the EMEC testing centre in Orkney and others for an Innovation Power Purchase Agreement which would bridge the crucial gap between technical feasibility and commercial application”.

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Under an IPPA, purchasers of electricity from emerging technologies would claim back from government the difference in cost compared to normal electricity prices, it said.

It is claimed that would “allow the otherwise elusive commercialisation to move forward”.

Malin Group proposes that the needs of each technology should be assessed on its merits.

Ben Sharples, director at Malin Marine said: “We have been talking about wave and tidal stream for 20 years but there is still not a single commercial deployment of any scale. The current proposals will not resolve that challenge and eventually investment in unfulfilled hopes will run out.

“If there is to be a wave and tidal stream sector, there has to be a specific support mechanism to help reach commercialisation and also a strong link between design and manufacturing which is capable of creating a success story as well as significant employment in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”