SMT Presents their paper: Techno-Economic analysis of tidal turbine installation and access at EWTEC 2011.
Once mass production and installation of marine energy conversion devices is possible the cost per unit will decrease significantly compared with current costs. Learning rates for similar technological development, such as offshore wind power have been shown to be in the order of 15%-20% per cumulative doubling of installed capacity.
Initial estimates optimistically expected installation costs to be around 2% of the build and setup costs, with maintenance costs accounting for around 29% of the farm running costs. Currently installation is perhaps closer to 100% or more of the prototype unit manufacture cost; furthermore the methods employed for installation are not financially scalable, and each subsequent recovery and reinstallation could incur a similar or higher cost. One reason for this is fluctuations in the international vessel market, on which most installations currently rely, are primarily driven by the demands of the oil and gas sector.
For the long term financial viability of the tidal energy industry, a substantial reduction in both the costs for installation and maintenance access is required.