EU could see 71MW of operational tidal energy capacity in 2020

Illustration (Photo: Atlantis Resources)

Within the European Union, 71MW of tidal stream and 37MW of wave energy capacity could be commissioned in 2020, according to the JRC Ocean Energy Status Report 2016.

Tidal stream and wave energy technologies have showed considerable technological progress in 2016, culminated with the creation of the first ocean energy farms, the report states. Both technologies are also gathering increasing support to overcome technological and financial barriers for deployment in the future European energy system.

Europe is the global leader in the development of ocean energy technologies, hosting most of global developers – 52% of tidal stream and 60% of wave energy developers. However, the installation of ocean energy devices is taking place at a slower pace than expected, with only 14MW of ocean energy installed capacity at the end of 2016, instead of 641MW declared by the EU Member States in their national renewable energy action plans.

From the technological point of view, there is no lack of projects in the sector, according to the report. Taking into account only projects that have already secured funding, 71MW of tidal stream and 37MW of wave energy capacity could be operational within the EU in 2020.

The pipeline of announced European projects could reach 600MW of tidal stream and 65MW of wave energy capacity by 2020.

There is a strong commitment from the EU to back the development of ocean energy, from supporting projects at research and development stage, to demonstration plants and regional collaboration, there report further states.

The European Commission has strengthened its support for the development of ocean energy within the Strategic Energy Technology Plan of the European Commission. As such, cost targets for wave and tidal energy have been agreed to ensure the long term uptake and viability of both technologies.

The Ocean Energy Forum, supported by the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy, have delivered to the European Commission and stakeholders the Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap (“Building Ocean Energy for Europe”), identifying key hurdles of the sector, and specific recommendations for each ocean energy technology.

The next few years will be fundamental to understand how far and how fast the markets for both wave and tidal energy technology can be formed, according to the report.

Furthermore, strong mechanisms at European level are in place to support the development of technology from early stage prototypes through commercialisation.

The H2020 programme alone has been funding R&D projects in wave and tidal energy with over EUR 60 million in the 2014-16 period. NER 300, the EU funding programme for innovative low-carbon energy demonstration projects, InnovFin – a series of integrated and complementary financing tools and advisory services offered by the European Investment Bank Group together with the European Commission – and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) mechanisms are supporting the deployment of demonstration projects.

Collaboration initiatives at regional level are catalysing the formation of marine energy clusters to consolidate the European supply chain.

Meeting the ambitious targets of the SET-Plan require intensified collaboration between the different players to sustain the policy drive for the development of ocean energy in Europe, according to the JRC Ocean Energy Status Report 2016.

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