I see that the nascent ocean energy industry is figuring out how to lobby for support. It took all that to create the present industry in wind turbines that is now becoming unstoppable. I can assure you those early days there were even less promising.
The industry needs robust engineering but we have proven in the oil industry that we can do it.
So yes, it is time to get behind the industry and to see where it can lead us.
Ocean energy industry wants support
by Staff Writers
Ocean energy could provide 15 percent of Europe's energy needs by 2050, the industry says, adding that this target is only realistic if politicians increase support for the new technologies.
"Europe has the oldest maritime industry, vast ocean energy resources and it is a pioneer in ocean energy technologies. It is well-positioned to lead the world in harvesting ocean energy," the
Energy Association writes in its new road map until 2050, called Oceans of Energy. European Ocean
The industry says it is capable of installing ocean energy capacity of 3.6 gigawatts by 2030 and nearly 188 GW by mid-century. That means that by 2050, ocean energy could produce as much electricity as 100 nuclear power plants, prevent the emission of 136.3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year and create 470,000 green jobs, the industry says.
"Now is the time for the EU to act in a coordinated manner in order to develop these technologies to their full potential and consequently export them around the globe," the report reads.
The potential of energy from the oceans is indeed huge: If only 0.1 percent of the renewable energy available within the seas could be converted into electricity it would satisfy the present world demand for energy more than five times over. Swedish utility Vattenfall says wave power can ultimately produce around 250 terawatt hours of green power, enough to supply up to 40 million people.
But the industry is still in its infant days: Current installed capacity is around 6 megawatts -- roughly the same as two medium-sized onshore wind turbines. A handful of tidal and wave power plants are being operated in the waters near Britain, Portugal and the Scandinavian countries but it's still unclear which technology will make the cut.
Britain is especially eager to push ocean energy, as it has
Europe's most promising resources.
The Crown Estate this year granted project licenses to companies committed to build wave and tidal power plants generating up to 1.2 GW of electricity -- roughly the capacity of a large nuclear power plant -- within 10 years.
The British government-owned property manager said the plants -- envisioned by companies including Eon from
, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power Renewables -- would be built off the northern coast of the Scottish mainland for an estimated $6 billion. Germany
Tides and currents off the Scottish coast are so strong that Alex Salmon,
Scotland's first minister, has hopes his country can become the of marine energy. Saudi Arabia
But the industry hopes for a pan-European push into the energy source and in the road map calls for increased policy support.
"Ocean energy technologies are maturing but their development needs to be accelerated by a policy framework, equivalent to that which promoted the offshore oil and gas sector from the 1960s onward and, more recently, the offshore wind sector," the industry writes.
It asks for support when connecting the plants to the mainland grid, and highlights the importance of cooperation with other industries, particularly offshore wind, oil and gas, which also produce or transport energy at sea.
The proponents of ocean energy say that the different technologies currently developed and tested represent a secure supply portfolio.
Tidal plants would produce power only twice a day but the predictability of the tides guarantees a reliable generation; wave energy has the largest potential worldwide and could produce relatively cheap power; and osmotic as well as ocean thermal energy (relying on differences in salinity and temperature) could produce power and heat 24 hours a day, the industry claims.