The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ocean Energy Europe (OEE) to accelerate the commercialisation of ocean energy technologies by promoting the right policy incentives and innovative business models in Europe and globally.
OEE and Irena say in a statement that oceans hold abundant and largely untapped renewable energy potential that could drive a vigorous global blue economy.
In addition to providing mainstream power generation, a blue economy driven by offshore renewables could bring major benefits to small island developing States and coastal communities, they note.
Not only can such an ocean energy help to decarbonise power generation, but it also provides affordable and reliable access to electricity, helps countries to fulfil their Paris Agreement pledges and contribute to global climate action, they add.
Offshore renewables can help meet energy needs for shipping, cooling and water desalination, while creating jobs and fostering wider socioeconomic opportunities for a green recovery from Covid-19.
Irena director-general Francesco La Camera says close cooperation with OEE in platforms such as Irena’s Collaborative Framework and Coalition for Action is absolutely vital as knowledge is shared with industry to ensure a widespread deployment of ocean and offshore renewables in the future.
OEE CEO Rémi Gruet states that Europe is a world leader in the development of ocean energy, but the massive potential of these technologies is unarguably global in scale.
“Working on joint initiatives and exchanging information with Irena will strengthen the advancement of these technologies on the international stage.”
Currently, ocean energy accounts for about 530 MW of installed generation capacity globally.
Tidal stream and wave projects under construction may add another 3 GW of installed capacity within the next five years, most of it in Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa.
However, with the right incentives and regulatory frameworks, Irena sees potential for ocean energy to grow to 10 GW of installed capacity globally.
La Camera explains that, following the same trend as wind power and solar photovoltaic, innovative offshore renewables have seen a huge cost reduction in recent years.
He says tidal and wave energy already offer a viable alternative for remote diesel-powered island territories with high electricity costs.
“As economies of scale push costs down even further, these technologies will become affordable options alongside mature renewable energy sources. Strong research and innovation programmes, revenue support and regional cooperation in marine spatial planning are now needed to bring these technologies to the commercial stage.”