Dr. Sian George, CEO, European Ocean Energy Association
The European Commission has set out a trinity of energy policy goals: our energy supplies must be secure; they must be sustainable and they must underpin Europe’s global competitiveness.
In the future we will need a smarter and more interconnected energy system. One that will maximise Europe’s ability to draw on all its available resources. It is only logical that renewable energy sources will form an increasing part of Europe’s energy mix in the future. Adding new sources of untapped renewable energy will also be essential. The Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) will support new technologies by focusing national and private research funding on priorities for accelerating the development of new energy technologies and systems.
Europe has a long maritime heritage and strong off-shore industries. She has been a major global player in offshore fossil fuel extraction, and now leads the world in the field of offshore wind. European businesses and research institutions are now pioneering ocean energy innovation. The skills, knowledge and supply chains supporting these activities mean that Europe is well-positioned to lead the world in the exciting new field of ocean energy exploitation.
Harnessing this unused resource will increase our energy security. Bringing ocean energy into the mainstream mix will optimise our clean power supply - increasing system stability and bringing down the overall price of renewables. It will also drive industrial growth and job creation by revitalising maritime sectors; and maximising the value of investments in infrastructure, expertise and equipment in Europe’s oil, gas and offshore wind sectors.
A successful ocean energy sector could make a significant contribution to decarbonising Europe’s electricity supply from the mid-2020s onwards. In 1980 the global installed capacity for wind power was 10MW; today it has exceeded 100GW in Europe alone. Estimates of the future installed capacity for ocean energy vary widely – and so much will be dependent on getting the correct blend of support and policy frameworks – but it would be reasonable for Europe to set out to install over 100GW of wave, tidal and salinity gradient ocean energy before 2050. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology also offers significant export and development potential for tropical coastal areas, including many Cotonou agreement countries.
The emerging ocean energy industry has an installed capacity of 10MW at test sites across Europe and has already attracted over €600 million of private sector investment in the last 7 years. Large European OEMs and Utilities have taken stakes in a number of leading technology concepts, and now have around 2GW of sites under development in their project pipelines.
Maintaining Europe’s global lead will depend on overcoming a number of challenges and barriers facing the sector. The key to industry success will be bringing stakeholders together at the European level to develop strategic plans focused on managing the three main categories of technical, project and financial & market based risks.
The European Ocean Energy Association is a rapidly growing membership organisation. Our members represent national government agencies; large utilities & industrial companies; national trade associations and universities. They all have one thing in common: they are pioneering a new industrial sector for Europe. Our objective is to accelerate the development and commercialisation of ocean energy technologies; and we invite you to join us.
The Ocean Energy Association believes that strategic development could be supported in the future by creating a European Industrial Initiative under the SET-Plan. Such an initiative would be a vehicle for the industry, member states and the Commission to de-risk this emerging sector and accelerate growth.
 The Cotonou Agreement is a partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. Since 2000, it has been the framework for the EU's relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).
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