I write in response to John Clarke’s letter about tidal turbines.
The Isle of Man is well placed to benefit from tidal technology in the future but, unfortunately, the very large cost of tidal means ocean options are probably still a generation away.
Ocean technology (both wave and tidal) is still largely in the experimental stages, despite the hopeful PR coming from one or two ocean tech companies. Each current installation is, or has been, heavily financially supported by government money (because the development of ocean technology is in all our interests if people can get it to work reliably).
The high cost is partly down the experimental nature of the installations, partly down to ongoing maintenance because the sea is powerful and corrosive, and partly down to economies of scale - ocean tech is not yet mass-produced and so the costs of manufacturing parts is high.
The recent AEA Report into renewable technology did consider ocean options, but concluded quite rightly that on and off-shore wind are the best opportunity in the short to medium term for the Isle of Man. Wind technology is reliable, mass produced, and comparatively cheap.
It’s also worth reminding readers that Manx windfarms will not require any government support – some people refuse to believe this, but it’s still true. The same people are also seeking to polarise the energy debate – but the question is not really about which technology to choose. The days when one technology can supply every need are passing quickly. Across Britain as a whole we’ll need a patchwork of energy sources including, wind, tidal, solar, nuclear and some continuing fossil fuel use. The Isle of Man should both contribute and benefit where it can.
By 2030 we could easily be powered many times over by renewables – and exporting power to the UK at profit.
Thie Yuan, Fistard