October 22nd marked World Energy Day. The quest for energy has always been a balancing act between the benefits and costs of creation or extraction, storage, transportation and waste disposal. As populations have grown, humans have searched for new energy sources. Today wave, tidal and wind energy are at the centre of the green energy mix, given their huge potential.
For World Energy Day we have published a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit that examines the past, present and future of energy innovation for the blue economy. The report looks at the energy needs of different ocean economy sectors, assesses groundbreaking innovations and outlines an enabling environment for energy innovation within the blue economy.
Technological innovation has an important role to play in accelerating wave energy. Can the power of waves be harnessed to improve hurricane monitoring and forecasting? The US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are offering up to US$2.4m in cash prizes and other support to help innovators find out.
Europe’s leadership role
We also explore Europe’s leadership role in ocean energy. More than half of wave and tidal patents worldwide are held by European companies. The goal is to deploy 100 GW of wave and tidal energy capacity by 2050, meeting around 10% of Europe’s current electricity consumption. Meanwhile, policy support has helped the EU reach nearly 20 GW of offshore wind capacity by the end of 2018, making the region a global leader. And now green hydrogen offers huge potential to accelerate the ocean energy opportunity. In July the European Commission launched its new hydrogen strategy, making hydrogen a central element of the road map to an integrated and decarbonised energy system.
While ocean energy has created excitement among many businesses and environmentalists alike, deep-sea mining has created more controversy. As the latest film in The Protectors Ocean series shows, mining companies and governments will soon be allowed to extract minerals from the deep-ocean floor. These rare metals are vital for a more environmentally sustainable future on land, but at what cost to the health of the ocean?
Energy is one of the six industry tracks at the World Ocean Summit in March 2021. The energy track will examine the next steps from policymakers, investors and industry to maximise the potential of marine renewable energy. I hope you can join me.