The report compiled the outcomes of an international workshop on emerging energy technologies held in March 2018.
While ocean energy sector is still at an early stage of development, the report analyses ten future emerging technologies to generate energy from the ocean tides and waves. It however stated that there was still extensive need for further R&D, supported by private, national or European funding, and that would help maintain European leadership in this emerging sector.
With only 17 MW compared to 15.8 GW of offshore wind of operating capacity installed in European waters, mostly as demonstration or first-of-a-kind precommercial projects, every technological solution proposed to bridge the gap between R&D stage and the commercialisation of ocean energy devices can be seen for the time being as a future emerging technology.
There were a total of 30 experts in the ocean energy which analyzed the needs for the sector, and the type of innovations to bridge the gap with the market. They described the state of advancement of each of the technology family, advantages, technological limitations, as well as their technology readiness level.
The experts talked about ten ocean energy technology families, which group together wave or tidal converters, subsystems and components that are characterised by a common operating or design principle. They mentioned that in terms of speed of development, the first generation of tidal energy converters was heading the group.
They have reached the pre-commercial stage with the total installed capacity of around 12 MW in Europe and the speed of development is medium, with devices having reached maturity after 10+ years of R&D.
The overall speed of the technology development was rated as medium/fast—meaning a time period that is less than 5-15 years. Some floating tidal platforms however, were already at an advanced stage of development.
As for wave energy, it is mentioned that the availability of testing facilities and new computational tools are making research have become much more accessible and have opened up new opportunities leading to novel approach to the first generation of wave energy concepts. The advancement of AI and leaning algorithms have also helped in developing more efficient designs.
Development speed here was classified in the medium-slow range, however.
An integrated systems approach was identified as ideal to develop successful marine energy systems. Due to which, collaboration with industry and engagement with original equipment manufacturers from the early stage of development was recommended.
The transferability of solutions from other sector, as well as the development of new technologies and materials were also stated to possibly have significant impact on the speed of development of future emerging technologies for ocean energy.