Wave Energy

Ocean waves are generated by the action of winds on the surface of the world’s oceans and both this generation mechanism and the ability of water waves to propagate over large distances make ocean wave energy one of the most concentrated sources of renewable energy available.

Interesting Facts

  • Attempts to develop devices capable of extracting energy from ocean waves have been made since at least the late 18th century.
  • The world’s first wave power plant was opened in 2008 at Portugal’s Agucadoura Wave Farm.
  • It is estimated that up to 21.5GW of wave and tidal energy could be generated from the waters around Scotland annually.
  • Scotland produces about 10% of the total wave energy of Europe thus making it a significant player in the wave energy market and a centre of Research and Development.
  • The Orkney Islands in Scotland are one of the leading areas in wave energy in the world.

Image right, credit: Colin Keldie, courtesy of WES



  • With deployment of 100MW per year from 2021/22, the UK’s tidal stream industry could generate a benefit of £1,400 million by 2030 and would support almost 14,500 jobs by 2040
  • Worldwide, wave has a higher power density per square kilometre than either wind or solar energy and it is more predictable than either of them.
  • If Scotland can create the world’s most efficient solution, there is an opportunity to create a new industry that could service the world’s needs in the sector.
  • Wave systems are being developed by drawing on Scotland’s extensive energy expertise and through original research and development activities.
  • The UK Government has launched the £10 million Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support commercial deployment of tidal energy generation in Scottish waters through driving innovation and reduction in the cost of electricity generated.


  • The principal challenge is to design and install wave energy extracting systems which are cost effective.
  • Systems need to be highly efficient ocean wave energy absorbers and capable of surviving for sustained periods of time in a highly energetic ocean environment.
  • The systems also need to be resistant to potential environmental effects on the system structure including corrosion and marine growth (where these impact on energy extraction and survivability).
  • Ensure technologies do not damage the marine environment in which they are installed and can be installed, de-installed and maintained cost effectively.

Tidal Energy

Tidal power, often also referred to as tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that harnesses the energy found in ocean tides to produce electricity or other forms of renewable energy.

Interesting Facts

  • Tidal energy is the oldest form of renewable energy, having been used by the Romans to power water mills by when they occupied much of Britain
  • Tides are created by the gravitational effect of the moon on the earth
  • Tidal turbines are more expensive to build and maintain than traditional wind turbines, but produce significantly greater energy
  • Tidal turbines also produce energy at a more consistent rate as the tide is continuous while the wind is not always blowing
  • The world’s largest tidal turbine is produced by an Orkney based company

Image right, credit: Mike Brookes Roper



  • It is believed the tidal stream industry could generate £1.4billion for the UK and support 22,600 jobs by 2040
  • The UK has more installed tidal devices than any other country in the world
  • Tidal energy capacity is set to increase dramatically from 9.3 megawatts at present to 100-200MW by 2020
  • The UK’s tidal energy workforce is set to increase to around 6,000 by 2023
  • The wave and tidal market is set to be worth £800million per year to the UK economy by 2035


  • Despite the relatively good financial funding into research and development, government support to put tidal devices into commercial operation is waning
  • Tidal energy companies have struggled to compete with the more mature offshore wind industry
  • The lack of UK government support has given countries such as Canada and France the chance opportunity to close the gap

Get in touch

AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise