Specifically, ocean energy produces electricity at different times from wind and solar.
The report supports that it's important to help a variable wind and solar production match with a variable power demand every hour of the day. This will become increasingly valuable as Europe reaches 80%-100% renewable electricity.
Moreover, ocean energy is a new industry, that can deliver 400,000 EU jobs by 2050, billions of euros in exports, and industrial activity – specifically in coastal regions, where this is most needed.
There are 5 innovative technologies presented in the report.
Tidal stream – Europe has achieved a technological breakthrough in tidal stream during the past 2 years: predictable power is being generated, and the technology’s nascent economic impact is becoming clear. An export market is also developing.
Wave energy – Wave technologies progress at more sustainable pace than before. This step-by-step approach has produced several promising prototypes, which cater for different wave climates and market opportunities.
OTEC & SWAC – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) projects now focus onshore, to reduce costs and benefit from economies of scale. Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) is more advanced and is already servicing commercial districts and data centres in Europe. Salinity Gradient – Small scale prototypes aim to prove the technology and reduce costs to enable scaling-up.
Tidal range – A proven technology, tidal range is commercial with revenue support. The infrastructure works needed can provide additional benefits, such as tourism or costal protection. Industrial roll-out will be triggered by the right policy conditions.
In the meantime, the report presents a variety of key innovations to progress Ocean Energy through 5 phases of development,
The Ocean Energy Forum Roadmap clearly defined those phases and their differentiations to simplify the useful Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale and account for the fact that project can benefit from similar finance structure throughout several TRLs.
Four key actions are required, at a European and national level, to bring ocean energy technologies from early stage to industrialisation:
- A European ‘stage-gate’ programme for R&D and prototypes, which ‘funnels’ the most successful innovations, through a series of competitive calls;
- National-level revenue support earmarked for ocean energy, so that farms can repay debt or service equity from both private investors and public programmes. This support can be via competitive auctions in reserved ‘pots’, Feed-In-Tariffs or tax credits for private Power Purchase Agreements;
- A blend of programmes to finance demonstration and pre-commercial farms, made up of revenue support, grant funding, public-supported equity, public-guaranteed loans, and an Insurance & Guarantee Fund. EU schemes address some but not all of these requirements – e.g. InnovFin EDP.
- Environmental monitoring programmes that produce comparable and consistent data, enabling licensing and consenting authorities to make better decisions on ocean energy deployments.
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