Ocean renewable energy government support developments

The global developments of the ocean renewable energy markets have been highly dependent on government policy supports, in both emerging economies and developed countries. International co-operations have also played important

Hydropower & ocean renewable energy management 73 roles in research and developments. There have also been considerable challenges for developers to obtain suitable financing for new ocean renewable projects. The key reason is that the ocean renewable industry has been characterised by relatively high risks with big upfront development costs. In addition, the rising requirements for various planning, approval and licensing processes in relevant countries globally have added to additional pressure and hurdles.

Government supports for ocean renewable energy developments have been critical in different countries. These supports have included direct government funding, research grants or infrastructure supports. These have been critical elements in supporting ongoing ocean energy developments. A good example is that in Europe various project and research funding opportunities, including MaRINET2 and FORESEA, as well as the availability of marine testing facilities, have been made possible by regional, national and local government supports. More details of both of these programmes and their implications are described below.

The EU MaRINET2 programme has been supported by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Since 2017, the project has been awarded some EUR3.5 million (USD3.8 million) to provide free access to ocean renewable power testing facilities to almost 100 developers and users. These have provided important boosts to ocean wave, tidal and offshore wind developments plus supported new projects heading towards commercialisation. The transnational nature of the initiative has meant that projects from some 14 EU countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA, have been able to accelerate their technology developments at various advanced testing facilities across Europe (Marine Energy, Third MaRINET2 Call, UK 2019).

The EU FORESEA programme was launched in 2016 to provide competitive funding opportunities to ocean energy technology companies to test their new devices. Various funding sources have helped companies to test their ocean renewable devices under real sea conditions at various test centres in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. FORESEA stood for Funding for Ocean Renewable Energy through Strategic European Action project. The project partners included the European Marine Energy Centre, SmartBay of Ireland and SEM-REV of France. FORESEA has enabled the demonstration of various innovative marine renewable energy technologies under real sea conditions. These should help these new technologies to accelerate their development progress towards commercialisation faster. In addition, it should help to leverage the appropriate investments required to take these new technologies to market. Various ocean renewable test centres have been supported by the European industry association Ocean Energy Europe which is based in Brussels (Dutch Marine Energy Centre, FORESEA Funding Ocean Renewables, 2019).

In Scotland, the local government has established Wave Energy Scotland in 2014 as a subsidiary of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise of the Scottish government. This is to ensure that Scotland will maintain a leading role in ocean renewable energy developments and implementation. Since its establishment, it had awarded some GBP 28 million (USD37.8 million) to 62 ocean renewableprojects in 11 countries. All these ocean renewable projects have focused on various key components, such as novel wave energy converters, power take-off devices (PTOs), structural materials and manufacturing processes, and control systems.

In the USA, the US government’s Department of Energy (DOE) has been working with the Oregon State University on finalising its plans for the Pacific Marine Energy Centre South Energy Test Site, which is planned to be completed by 2021. After completion, it should have space to accommodate 20 grid-connected wave energy converters. The US DOE has also announced an additional USD12 million funding in 2017 to promote the advancement ofwave renewable energy developments in the USA. It has allocated funding supports to four ocean renewable projects. Two of the ocean renewable projects will test and validate wave energy converters in open waters. The other two ocean renewable projects being funded will address early-stage development challenges.

In China, the Chinese government authorities have also released several edicts on ocean renewable energy and technology innovations. These included the 13th Five-Year Plan on Ocean Energy together with new national ocean renewable energy targets. The Chinese government has announced a new ocean energy capacity target of 50 MW, which authorities aspire to be installed by 2020. They have also highlighted specific national targets for ocean energy developments. These included the development of new ocean renewable demonstration and testing facilities together with the construction of various island projects.

The European Commission had also published an EU report in 2017 titled “Renewable Energy in Europe.” The report helped to shed more light on the reasons for past failures in ocean energy development. It highlighted various lessons that might be drawn from these developments for future improvements. The EU report had called for establishing more covenants and co-operations between the ocean renewable energy industry and the public sector. The key focuses should include better co-ordination and evaluations of ocean renewable technology developments in the EU. In addition, there should be improved EU certification, performance guarantees, standardisation and accreditation of various ocean renewable technologies. The report has also proposed a more consistent policy framework and alignment of public funding activities. It has proposed the establishment of a staged support structure for future ocean renewable developments. The proposed structure will include strict conditions together with performance criteria to assess ocean technological and sectoral readiness. These should all help to provide a more selective and targeted support for ocean energy developments in the EU (EU EEA, Renewable energy in Europe Report, 2017).

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