A new study which will examine the potential of generating electricity from the waters surrounding England and Wales has been commissioned by the government.
The research is part of the government's drive to tap the potential of wave and tidal electricity generation technologies.
Speaking to experts at the British Wind Energy Agency tidal and wave technology conference yesterday, energy minister Lord Hunt said the research marks a "significant step forward" for the marine energy sector in the UK.
He added: "The screening exercise will allow us to better understand the energy potential of marine energy devices and the realistic timescale of when multiple devices will be installed and commissioned."
The study will be conducted by environmental consultancies AEA and Hartley Anderson.
Developers, utility firms and small businesses will all be asked for their input on the issue.
Tidal power in the Severn estuary could provide the UK with up to five per cent of its energy.
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