3 December 2020, Brussels. Deploying ocean energy at scale requires simpler, faster consenting processes that are informed by the latest environmental research, according to a new report 'Ocean energy and the environment: Research and strategic actions' launched today. To date, there is no evidence that ocean energy has a negative impact on the marine environment – in fact, its role in mitigating climate change is clearly a positive one. Regulatory decision-making should be designed with this in mind, and provide an easier path into the water for these innovative technologies.
Authored by ETIP Ocean, the report aims to make the decision-making process more efficient and better informed. It calls for more real-world, long-term data and greater knowledge-sharing across projects, to strengthen the science behind consenting decisions.
The report advocates an ‘Adaptive Management’ approach that responds to new information over time, reducing uncertainty when it comes to environmental impact.
Equipping developers with the right information is also key. Another of the report’s recommendations is a ‘single authority’ – a national contact point, who supports developers in navigating the requirements. Companies could also learn from each another’s consenting experiences via a peer-to-peer platform, suggests the report.
Financial support to help developers take part in environmental programmes above and beyond the legal minimum is another vital aspect of improving the quality and quantity of data available. Many are SMEs and their resources are heavily invested in technology development, leaving little or nothing for additional monitoring programmes.
Felix Leinemann, Head of Unit from European Commission, who launched the report, said: “As recognised in the European Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy, facilitating access to the sea is a key factor in the development of a competitive European ocean energy sector. This report highlights the need to continue environmental monitoring programmes such as those supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, to accelerate ocean energy deployments across Europe.”
Lotta Pirttimaa from Ocean Energy Europe, the report’s author, commented: “As the sector grows, and both projects and machines get bigger, it is more important than ever that the consenting process is both fit-for-purpose and based on real-life observations. It is time for regulators to strike the right balance between diligence and simplicity when it comes to the way these processes are designed and implemented.”
19 June, Brussels. Ocean energy devices and pilot farms should be demonstrated in real-sea conditions for several years to accelerate large-scale deployment, according to ETIP Ocean’s new ‘Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda (SRIA)’, published today. This is just one of the research and innovation priorities that the report identifies for ocean energy over the next five years.
For the first time, the sectoral advisory body highlights the integration of ocean energy pilot farms into the energy system as a priority. This reflects the sector’s readiness to enter the market at a larger scale and underlines ocean energy’s key role as a balancing partner to variable wind and solar power. It also calls for improvements in sub-systems, marine operations, foundations and connections, which will reduce costs and increase the reliability and yield of ocean energy devices.
As Europe gears up for its ‘green recovery’, deploying new technologies is urgently needed to drive decarbonisation and innovation-based growth. Proving the worth of pre-commercial ocean energy projects will ensure that this technology continues its remarkable progress and will kick-start a new, large-scale industry in Europe.
Patrick Child, Deputy Director General at the European Commission, who launched the report, said: “European Technology and Innovation Platforms are hugely valuable in identifying research priorities for funding programmes such as Horizon Europe. This report highlights the R&I potential to transform ocean energy into an economically viable source of clean energy and jobs in Europe as part of a strong, forward-looking European Green Deal.”
Jose Luis Villate from Tecnalia, the report’s lead author, agreed. “The new SRIA provides a blueprint to keep Europe at the front of the pack in ocean energy technology development. Targeted innovation will bring the sector to industrial roll-out and help to reignite the European economy by providing jobs, exports, SME activity and technological leadership.”
Implementing the actions outlined in the SRIA will bring the sector closer to a place where private investment becomes the primary driver. Revenue support is still needed to enable the deployment of demonstration and pre-commercial projects – together, these efforts will help deliver a decarbonised Europe, powered by ocean energy.
The UN Ocean Conference being postponed, UN Global Compact has transformed its originally multiple-day high-level meetings into an online event. The event will take place on 2 June at 3 pm CEST.
The event will focus on the role of businesses and governments to ensure a more healthy and productive ocean by 2030. One of the plenaries discusses ocean-based renewables, with an introduction by Francesco La Camera, Director General of International Renewable Energy Agency.
More information and registration can be found here.