The global ocean energy sector is at a turning point, with over 45 wave and tidal prototypes expected to be ocean tested this year, according to US renewable analysts at IHS Emerging Energy Research.
If these initial projects are successful, the global ocean energy project pipeline is poised to boom. IHS estimates that more than 1.8GW of ocean projects in 16 countries are currently in the pipeline.
The ocean energy industry’s recent development has attracted a slew of established energy companies with renewable growth ambitions, including leading European utilities and global technology suppliers – many with hydro and offshore wind experience.
Boosted by government and policy support, the UK is currently the world’s leading market for ocean energy, with 300MW of projects in the pipeline seeking to be installed over the next five years.
The UK government hopes to add 1.3GW by 2020, driven by its need to meet legally binding 2020 renewable targets. Ireland, France, Portugal, South Korea and Australia are also key ocean energy markets and will remain the industry’s primary focus for the next decade, according to the study.
Of the various forms of ocean energy, IHS states that tidal energy is poised to mature first, with the promise of providing predictable, lower-cost electricity and a standard design. Tidal is attracting major original equipment manufacturers into the ocean energy industry’s supply side.