Ocean Energy Europe and the International Renewable Energy Agency have signed a memorandum of understanding to “deepen existing cooperation to accelerate the commercialization of ocean energy technologies, by promoting the right policy incentives and innovative business models in Europe and globally.”
The MoU was signed by Rémi Gruet, chief executive officer of OEE, and Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA, at the annual Ocean Energy Europe Conference & Exhibition.
Oceans hold abundant, largely untapped renewable energy potential that could drive a vigorous global blue economy, as two new studies released by IRENA show. “Fostering a blue economy: Offshore renewable energy” and “Innovation outlook: Ocean energy technologies” find that in addition to providing mainstream power generation, a blue economy driven by offshore renewables will bring major benefits to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal communities.
Ocean energy can help to decarbonize power generation, provide affordable and reliable access to electricity, help countries fulfil Paris Agreement pledges and contribute to global climate action. Offshore renewables also can help meet energy needs for shipping, cooling and water desalination, laying the foundation for a broad-based blue economy and industry. They create jobs, improve health, strengthen people’s livelihoods and foster wider socioeconomic opportunities for a green recovery from COVID-19, according to the two groups.
“Renewable energy from oceans has the potential to meet four times the global electricity demand of today, foster a blue economy, and bring socio-economic benefits to some of the most vulnerable areas to climate change such as SIDS and coastal areas,” said La Camera. “Close cooperation with OEE in platforms like IRENA’s Collaborative Framework and Coalition for Action is absolutely vital to share knowledge with industry to ensure a widespread deployment of ocean and offshore renewables in the future.”
Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe added, “We have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration between OEE and IRENA for some time, and I am delighted to formalize it today. 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.”
Today, 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 short-term within the next five years, most of it in Europe (55%), Asia-Pacific (28%) and the Middle East and Africa (13%). However, with the right incentives and regulatory frameworks in place, IRENA foresees the potential growth of ocean energy up to 10 GW of installed capacity by 2030 globally.
According to a press release, innovative offshore renewables have seen huge cost reductions in recent years. 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 R&I programs, revenue support, and regional co-operation in marine spatial planning are now needed to bring these technologies to the commercial stage.
IRENA is an intergovernmental agency for the global energy transformation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
OEE is a network of ocean energy professionals with a mission to create a strong environment for the development of ocean energy, improve access to funding, and enhance business opportunities for its members.