The European Commission is looking to turn emerging ocean energy technologies like tidal and wave power into ‘another European success story’, replicating the spectacular uptake of offshore wind, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella has said.
The Commissioner gave a speech at the third annual Offshore Energy and Storage conference in Malta, during which he reflected on the challenges ocean energy sector is facing as well as EU’s efforts in supporting this emerging renewable energy sector.
Karmenu Vella said: “Tidal and wave energy are making huge strides. Some say that harvesting just 0.1% of the energy contained in waves could power the entire world 5 times over! With the economic potential to match: the market opportunities could be worth around 535 billion euros until 2050.”
Vella highlighted some of the obstacles ocean energy projects are facing, most notably in raising capital, convincing investors, and turning a bright initial idea into a viable business.
To remove such obstacles and support these new forms of ocean energy, the European Commission in 2014 set up an Ocean Energy Forum. This collaborative roundtable for industry and policymakers is currently working out how to develop ocean energy in Europe in the years to come, according to the European Commission.
The resulting plan, an ocean energy strategic roadmap, is due by the end of the year.
Vella also said the Commission is stepping up its financial support and considering new innovative financing mechanisms for renewable ocean energy projects.
“We know that innovative ocean energy projects, especially those perceived as high-risk, still find it difficult to get financial backing. That is why we, together with the European Investment Bank, are exploring the possibility of setting up an investment platform for ocean energy under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI),” Vella said.