According to the Conservatives, the government has invested £52.8 million under the £60m Coal Investment Aid launched in June 2003, whereas only £2.3m of the £50m Marine Renewables Deployment Fund announced in August 2004, has been spent.

Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark, says: “At a time when we need to deliver a major expansion in renewable energy, it’s astonishing to find that less than 5% of the investment promised to give Britain a lead in marine renewables has actually been made. Yet over £52m has been spent on subsidies to the coal industry – over 20 times that which has been invested in clean marine energy.

“Faced with this neglect from the government it is little wonder that Britain punches way below its weight on renewables – we have the third lowest contribution from renewable energy in Europe, despite some of the best natural resources,” he adds.

Government response

Responding to the comparison made between investment in coal and marine renewable energy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says in a comment that the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF) was set up in 2005.

“The MRDF is designed to assist the commercial demonstration of devices and certain entry criteria is [sic] put in place to ensure that funding is allocated properly. The MDRF therefore requires that devices have been tested continuously for a minimum of 3 months before they can enter the Scheme. As yet there have been no projects which have met the requirement necessary requirements,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change says.

“We are not sure it’s helpful to compare two completely different technologies – coal having been in development for generations, and marine very much cutting edge.”

Of the £60m of low carbon funding in the budget, £22m will be allocated to help pre-commercial testing of marine technology, “which should enable access to the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change adds.