Energy minister Greg Barker made the announcement on a visit to Pelamis Wave Power at Leith Docks in Edinburgh.
The government says that generating clean energy from the power of waves or tides has the potential to meet 15-20% of the UK’s current electricity demand by 2050. It also envisages the UK becoming a world leader in tidal power technology.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has a budget £200m to fund the development of low carbon technologies over the next four years. Some £20m of this will go to marine energy to help progress the development of turbines from the current large scale prototypes to bigger formations in the sea.
Mr Barker said: “Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a potential £15bn to the economy to 2050.
“Britain can be a world leader as we have decades of expertise in offshore industries and the most advanced devices are already being developed here. Our geography gives us access to rich marine resources which act as a natural laboratory to test and run devices in realistic conditions, especially in Scotland and the southwest where innovative work is already being carried out.
The scheme is expected to open in spring next year and, subject to a value for money assessment, will support two projects to test prototypes in array formations – the final development stage in generating large scale electricity from marine power prior to commercial roll out.
Further details of the £20m fund for pre-commercial demonstration of wave and tidal energy devices will be released later in the year (subject to EU state aid approval). This is alongside the funding which the UK hopes to secure from the EU New Entrant’s Reserve 300 (NER300) fund. Of the five UK renewables energy projects submitted to the NER300, three were for tidal stream arrays and one was for wave energy arrays.