In an article published by Innovation News Network, Donagh Cagney - Policy Director of Ocean Energy Europe - makes the case for ocean energy technology that can fill the gap "when the wind isn't blowing, and the sun isn't shining".
Describing the oceans as "the world's largest untapped source of power", Mr Cagney points out that "Ocean energy is clean, renewable and has the potential to provide 10% of Europe's current electricity needs by 2050. That is enough to power 94 million households every year. In addition, a strong ocean energy industry will yield many economic benefits for Europe, from local jobs to global export opportunities."
Mr Cagney argues that existing R&D investment in ocean energy must be underpinned by an increase in "market visibility" in EU member states: this can be achieved, he believes, if policymakers commit to creating the right conditions for the ocean energy industry to "scale up", by providing the same opportunities which were given to the emerging solar and wind industries. For example, the EU strategy on offshore renewable energy - launched in 2020 - could be moved up a gear, and ocean energy technologies could be fast-tracked under the REPowerEU plan.
Also highlighted in the article are recent developments in ocean energy: innovative tidal stream projects, such as Orbital Marine Power's O2 floating platform and Minesto's Dragon 4 tidal kite; wave energy developments, such as Mocean Energy's Blue X and Wello's wave energy converter; and multi-device arrays, or farms, such as the HiWave-5 wave converter project from CorPower Ocean and the FloWatt tidal array from HydroQuest.
Mr Cagney ends by saying that "we need national governments to take bold actions to transition quickly to a 100% renewable energy system. This will only happen by setting clear targets for innovative renewable technologies, including ocean energy, and by providing revenue support to this nascent industry."
Ocean energy certainly has the potential to be the "next big thing in energy" - and now is certainly the time to support innovation in this sector. To achieve this, we will need commitment from governments to drive the sector forwards, by selecting ocean energy as a specific component of an overall renewables target, and by ringfencing funding for wave, tidal and other ocean energy technologies.
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