Ocean energy
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Global ocean energy production has risen tenfold over the last decade, according to a report issued today by a leading ocean energy organisation.

Ocean Energy Systems (OES) annual report shows cumulative energy produced from wave and tidal stream sources surged from less than 5GWh in 2009 to 45GWh in 2019.

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Numerous other wave and tidal stream devices have been deployed in open-sea waters for testing, while further ‘push and pull’ mechanisms are stimulating the ocean energy sector in various regions of the world.

OES was launched in 2001 as a Technology Collaboration Programme of the International Energy Agency. It was created in response to increased ocean wave and tidal current energy activity primarily in Denmark, Portugal and the UK. The organisation now consists of 25 members including specialists from government departments, national energy agencies, as well as research and scientific bodies.  

OES chairman Henry Jeffrey from the University of Edinburgh said the new report communicates the sizable global effort to identify commercialisation pathways for ocean energy technologies.

“Our latest report underlines the considerable international support for the marine renewable sector as leading global powers attempt to rebalance energy usage and limit global warming. Decarbonisation has been appointed as the main strategy to tackle this challenge and many countries around the world have revised or set ambitious targets for emission reductions while ramping up the electricity production from renewable resources,” said Jeffrey.

He added: “The start of this new decade carries considerable promise for ocean energy. Important projects and deployments are being planned for the coming years as the mission to decarbonise intensifies and governments across the globe show increased interest in ocean energy technologies.”

Progress in the marine renewables sphere

Jeffrey noted that in the last 12 months there has been considerable progress in the marine renewables sphere.

In North America, Canada amended its Marine Renewable Energy Act to extend feed-in-tariffs and Purchasing Power Agreements for tidal energy developers working in FORCE.

Meanwhile, the US officially launched a new R&D initiative “Powering the Blue Economy” seeking to relieve power constraints in emerging coastal and off-grid markets through marine renewable energy.

Similarly, leaders across Europe have identified ocean energy as an essential component in meeting decarbonisation targets, fostering economic growth and creating future employment opportunities.

Key developments include the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan and the Blue Growth Strategy.

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In addition, Spain has drafted ocean energy targets for 2025 (25MW) and 2030 (50MW) while Scotland is actively supporting the development of ocean energy technologies through the £10 million Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.

Moreover, the UK enabled the development and testing of several prototype devices including Orbital O2, Minesto’s Deep Green, Magallanes Renovables’ ATIR, and Marine Power Systems’ WaveSub.

Thanks to an ongoing effort in co-founding prototypes with a cumulative public budget of more than €70 million in 10 years, French developers are also now testing tidal stream (Sabella, Hydroquest) and wave (GepsTecno) devices at scale and at sea.

According to Jeffery, Australia has announced funding for a 10-year $330 million Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre and the preparation of a new marine and coastal policy in Victoria.

In Asia, India has made tidal, wave and OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conservation) technologies eligible for ‘Renewable Purchase Obligations’ while Korea completed a short-term OTEC demonstration in the East Sea.

In addition, China sought to foster the tidal current energy sector through a temporary feed-in tariff of €0.33/kWh. The LHD tidal current energy project will be the first beneficiary of this incentive.

Each year OES presents an annual report including summaries of new, ongoing and recent projects, as well as updated member country reviews.

Its focus covers all forms of energy generation in which sea water forms the motive power through its physical and chemical properties, including wave, tidal range, tidal and ocean currents, ocean thermal energy conversion and salinity gradients.