At an Anglo-French Summit held in Paris on the 17th February 2012 the UK and France pledged their commitment to energy cooperation and energy security facilitating a number of commercial deals in the nuclear energy sector. Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK’s commitment to nuclear energy was “part of a diversified energy mix.” France and the UK will continue to develop renewable energy seeing renewables as both complementing nuclear energy and helping to achieve the EU goal of a low carbon European economy.
As part of this “energy mix” Alderney Renewable Energy (ARE), the tidal energy developer, signed agreements for two major tidal energy projects. Both agreements were supported by the UK and French governments.
One of the agreements is with DCNS the French industrial group to develop tidal arrays in Alderney's waters. The UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey and the French Industry Minister Eric Besson signed the Franco-British Declaration on Energy stating that: “We are determined to promote the potential of marine energies. We welcome the plan for a tidal turbine farm off Alderney-Aurigny in the Channel Islands. The commercial agreements signed today between Alderney Renewable Energy (ARE) / DCNS and ARE / Transmission Capital / Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE) are major steps towards the realisation of a significant new renewable energy project which could rank among the largest tidal stream energy deployments worldwide. We believe this project could encourage the emergence of industrial cooperation between France and the UK, while opening up new international prospects.”
The agreement with DCNS could lead to power being generated from tidal energy on Alderney within 12 to 14 months. As ARE proposed earlier, some of the power may be used for a tidal pumped storage system consisting of seabed mounted tidal turbines and a pumped storage system with a seawater reservoir in Fort Albert a large ruined cliff top fort. Working with the local electricity board, power generated from the tidal turbines will be fed into the seawater pumps so the seawater reservoir will power a hydro turbine in turn powering the generators supplying Alderney’s electricity demands.
The second agreement is between ARE and its partner Transmission Capital and RTE, the French power grid operator to develop an interconnector cable capable of exporting up to four gigawatts of tidal power from Alderney’s waters and a power trading link (FABLink) between France, Alderney and the UK. “We acknowledge the importance of developing new electricity interconnectors between our two countries in order to strengthen further the linking of our grids, improve the security of our energy supplies and facilitate the integration of intermittent energy sources. We encourage further studies to be undertaken on the interconnector projects currently under consideration, namely the IFA2 led by Réseau de Transport d’Electricité and the National Grid, FABLink (France-Alderney-Britain) led by Alderney Renewable Energy and Transmission Capital, and ElecLink led by Star Capital and Eurotunnel,” he Declaration went on to state.
Paul Clark, Chief Executive of ARE, commenting on the announcement said: “We are committed to developing tidal power in Alderney’s waters. We have already secured grid access for future power flows to the UK and France and today’s announcement marks significant progress towards creating one of the largest renewable energy projects in European coastal waters. We are delighted that the governments of Alderney, the United Kingdom and France are supporting this project.”
Hard on the heels of these agreements, the UK Government’s Energy & Climate Change Committee has said there should be increased governmental support for wave and tidal power, thereby preserving the UK’s global leadership in the sector. The Committee's report, The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK, recommends increasing funding and improving connection links between tidal energy projects.
It has been estimated that wave and tidal technologies could supply about one-fifth of the UK's current electricity demand. The Carbon Trust recently forecast that by 2050 the global market could be worth £340bn.
Such significant developments mean Alderney’s tidal resource looks to become a major contributor in assisting the UK and France to achieve their stated 2020 renewable energy targets of 15% and 23% respectively. The interconnector cable linking nuclear power stations will boost the amount of zero-carbon power available. For Alderney the strategic benefits are significant, as they will bring about independence and security of energy supply and cap escalating fuel costs. The royalties generated could produce a significant revenue stream for the States on exported electricity and encourage much needed economic development on the island.
For further information, visit the Alderney Renewable Energy website.