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Innovative finance needed to build an innovative industry

Innovative finance needed to build an innovative industry

08/02/2017
©iStock/turbavin

Building an ocean energy industry in Europe will require innovative financing tools to channel public and private investment in the most efficient way, according to the Ocean Energy Roadmap, published in November.

The Ocean Energy Roadmap was produced by the sector at the request of the European Commission, through its Ocean Energy Forum initiative. The Roadmap identifies the challenges facing the sector on its path to commercial readiness and puts forward solutions to overcome them.

“Access to capital is the main challenge facing innovative sectors, especially in the demonstration phase, when investment needs increase and returns are not yet proven. Yet demonstration is the pre-requisite to turning innovative technology into a new global industry capable of meeting a significant part of our electricity consumption,” Ocean Energy Europe CEO Rémi Gruet said in a statement.

He added that, bridging the gap between risk-averse commercial lenders and public authorities with limited budgets requires re-thinking project finance. “The Roadmap proposes just that, solutions fit for the purpose of reducing risk and unlocking capital: milestone-bound grant awards, guarantees and insurance. These, will allow projects to go in the water, speed up learnings and get the ocean energy sector to commercial readiness,” he said.

“The Commission asked us to come up with a plan for commercialising ocean energy in Europe, and the sector has delivered. We are now in discussions with the Commission, the EIB and Member States on implementing this plan in the near term,” added Gruet.

According to the Roadmap, ocean energy has the potential to be an EU industrial success story. Under favourable regulatory and economic conditions, ocean energy could meet 10% of the European Union’s power demand by 2050. Furthermore, with favourable support over the coming decade, Europe will obtain leadership in a global market worth a potential EUR 653 billion between 2010 and 2050, and an annual market of up to EUR 53 billion, significantly benefiting the European economy.