YANN-HERVÉ DE ROECK
Including ocean energy (OE) generators in the local energy mix can be beneficial at various levels: they are fully carbon-free; they complement other renewable energy sources when space onshore is scarce; wave and tidal power resources are abundant; and although intermittent, they are highly predictable. For decision makers, the assessment of the number of jobs related to the development of the ocean energy sector is of utmost importance. This information would help to motivate governments, corporations and agencies to further support the sector by providing them with credible and unbiased information on the sensitive issue of job creation. Various roadmaps have advanced figures for the 2025, 2030 and even 2050 horizons, but in the time since, numerous ocean energy technologies have been designed and tested, and even implemented in pilot farms. In the Orkney Islands, which hosts the European Marine Energy Centre for plug-and-play sea testing and the validation of new devices at sea, a fair percentage of the working community is now employed by the sector and its value chain (more than 200 out of 14 000 inhabitants). But this promising example cannot necessarily be extrapolated. The time has come to assess an accurate total number of existing jobs directly related to the sector. It is also time to validate an approach to assess job creation in the sector and to update projections for the 2030/2050 horizons.
Source: ©SIMEC Atlantis Energy
This issue has been studied, among other countries, in France, where a questionnaire was sent to all OE stakeholders in the various regions. This yearly study, financed by the French Maritime Cluster (CMF), the French Syndicate for Renewable Energies (SER), and the French Trade Association for Wind Energy (FEE), encompasses offshore wind and OE, but the global figures can be broken down to show that 400 and 477 FTE were in existence in the OE sector at the end of 2016 and 2017 respectively, in tidal, OTEC and wave technologies  . The consulting company responsible for the study, Observatoire des Energies Marines, followed a thorough methodology in order to extract and verify the raw data collected by the questionnaire.
Another way to evaluate job creation is by using economic models, which nevertheless require adequate input data. The US Department of Energy has developed the JEDI model for renewable energies  , which relies on parameters to be tuned by sector and by country. This fine tuning has proved successful in, for example, the merging of river and marine hydrokinetic technologies, and assessment of the wind and photovoltaic (PV) sectors in various countries. The advantage of modelling is obvious in terms of limiting time requirements, but comes at the cost of reduced accuracy compared with traditional polling – but polls, too, exhibit ranges of uncertainty.
'A total of 1350 direct jobs and a range of 500 FTE in indirect jobs was found over 16 countries.'
A specific study is therefore underway to estimate job creation worldwide, in the framework of the Technical Collaboration Program on Ocean Energy Systems, under the auspices of the International Energy Agency. Subsequently, these study techniques will be implemented in a combination of both approaches, exploiting finely tuned models based on the necessary preliminary field data collected from polling. A direct added value stemming from the use of models in this job creation assessment will be the increased credibility afforded extrapolations: job creation values at the 2030 and 2050 horizons will then be estimated using the validated modelling approach. The results of these studies will be aggregated by continent, thereby helping to confirm the current European leadership of this sector.
At European level, the JRC completed a case study in the 2018 Annual Economic Report on Blue Economy by performing an assessment of the number of jobs related to ocean energy deployment. This was obtained by proportional computations on the basis of the annual turnover of the companies involved in the sector, identified due to their participation in H2020 R&D projects in ocean energy. A total of 1 350 direct jobs and a range of 500 FTE in indirect jobs was found over 16 countries. An ongoing update of this study begins with a thorough mapping of the value chain in the OE sector. The EurObserv’Er data provide the required turnover figures needed to run a numerical job estimation in the near future, based on various scenarios. The forecast exercise requires the development of hypotheses on economic trends, i.e. evolution of the Global Added Value (GVA) along the value chain (for instance, the share of R&D efforts with respect to the maturity of the sector, or the sharing of elements of the value chain between countries/continents) to be identified and input to the model.