Ministers attacked over green energy 'failure'

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Britain risks being left behind in the race to produce "green" energy from wave power because of a lack of support from ministers, a committee of MPs said yesterday.

Britain risks being left behind in the race to produce "green" energy from wave power because of a lack of support from ministers, a committee of MPs said yesterday.

The Labour-dominated Science and Technology Select Committee said it was "extremely regrettable and surprising" that wave energy schemes had received "so little" support from the Government. The MPs called on ministers to set up a centre devoted to testing wave generators and said funding should be increased to create a "critical mass of researchers" in the field.

The report rebukes the Government just weeks after Tony Blair promised to drive forward the "green industrial revolution" by promoting wind power, wave power and other sources of renewable energy. He said Britain would provide an international showcase for green energy. The committee's report, published yesterday, said: "The enormous potential export market for wave and tidal energy devices easily justifies the public investment needed to ensure success."

Growth in the tidal energy industry could help to offset job losses in the offshore oil and gas industries and could provide substantial amounts of energy for the national electricity market. The committee said: "The current level of public spending on wave and tidal energy research is insufficient to give the technology the impetus it needs to develop fully. Targeted research funding for wave and tidal energy should be steadily increased year on year to create a critical mass of researchers in the field. The UK is at the forefront of wave and tidal energy but other national development programmes will undoubtedly overtake ours unless the Government acts quickly and decisively to support the industry."

The report said there were "no major technological barriers" to the development of wave and tidal energy and that significant increases in public support for wave energy could allow the technology to flourish. It said: "In comparison with other areas of government expenditure these are very small amounts, yet the potential return on investment would be huge.

The UK could finally harness some of the massive potential energy of its marine resource to supply part of its energy needs and create a new multibillion-pound domestic and export industry, employing thousands of people."

Targets to increase renewable energy produced by 2010 were welcomed by the committee, but MPs called for extra targets to be set for 2020 and 2050 to stimulate research and private sector investment.

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