Market News

 January 23, 2012
Ecotricity aims to make a splash with new marine energy business

 Ecotricity has today confirmed it has entered the marine energy sector, announcing ambitious plans to install 200 SeaRaser wave power devices off the UK coast within the next five years.

The company believes the 240kW device has the potential to produce electricity at just 2p per kilowatt hour (kWh), which is not only significantly lower than the government's projections for all other renewable energy technologies, but also undercuts new nuclear power, which is estimated to cost 10p/kWh, and natural gas power which costs 8p/kWh.

An Ecotricity spokesman told BusinessGreen the company has invested an undisclosed amount to purchase a controlling stake in the technology, which was pioneered by inventor Alvin Smith, and now plans to commercialise, install, and market the SeaRaser itself.

"This is a British invention that could transform the energy market not just here in Britain but around the world," added Ecotricity founder Dale Vince in a statement. "Our plan is to develop the technology and make them here in Britain, bringing green jobs as well as green energy to our country."

The device produces electricity by using the effect of the ocean's movement on a piston attached to a buoy on the surface of the water and another suspended underwater to force pressurised seawater through a pipe to an onshore turbine.

It also provides the option of supplying energy on demand by pumping seawater into a storage reservoir that can then be released through a generator as required.

Sea trials of a smaller demonstration model have already taken place, the company spokesman added, with a commercial scale device expected to be in the water next year.

He said Ecotricity decided the time was right for a full scale roll out of the technology after the Crown Estate reduced the down-payment required by wave and tidal developers to obtain a lease option from £25m to £5m and the government last autumn unveiled plans to increase subsidy support for the sector.

The move was welcomed by climate change minister Greg Barker, who said marine energy was "a real priority" for the government.

"The UK leads the world in developing marine energy technology and it's vital that the sector continues to bring forward innovative new technologies," he added.

"Marine energy is becoming an increasingly attractive investment for businesses, not least because we are proposing more than a doubling of financial support to the sector through the ROCs scheme."