By Dr Gareth Stockman, Chief Executive Officer, Marine Power Systems (MPS)
Last week MPS launched its new report on wave energy; Making Wave Power Work. In this blog, Founder and Managing Director, Dr Gareth Stockman explains the motivation for writing it, gives an overview of its contents before outlining his hopes for what it will achieve.
The report can be downloaded here.
In less than a year there have been a flurry of reports published of particular interest to those working in the marine renewable energy sector. Last November, Ocean Energy Europe published its 2016 Ocean Energy Roadmap. OEE’s report provides a useful analysis of the needs and wants of Europe’s marine energy sectors and seeks to identify a path for marine technologies to deliver a ‘significant amount of Europe’s power over the next 35 years.’
This report was followed by the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Perspectives for the Energy Transition 2017 which gave us an overview of investment in low carbon technology and how it shapes global patterns of energy use and related emissions for years to come.
Finally, Renewable UK launched its 2017 Ocean Energy Race, looking specifically at the potential that tidal, tidal stream and wave power offer the UK, as well as identifying the framework required to allow this sector to flourish.
All the reports are useful, technical documents which make a strong case for the marine renewables sector. I’d recommend looking at all three if you can spare the time. They’re written by leading renewable energy bodies with the view to building a path to marine success and they touch on key points and challenges including investment, planning, regulation and support. However, many of the salient points on the wave industry are buried in the 30 or so pages each report comprises.
It occurred to Dr Graham Foster and I that there was a lack of coherent information on wave energy available in one place. We realised a single document was required – one that considered wave power’s economic and environmental potential, but also one that explained some fundamental points on wave, such as how the technology for wave and tidal energy differ.
We decided to act. Making Wave Power Work is the result. Launched last week, the report was covered by over ten publications, including the BBC, Business Green, Renews, Clean Technica – perhaps illustrating there is both support for this sector and a desire to know more about its potential. Through launching this report, we hope to provide a useful source of information on wave energy and outline the reasons why it can flourish, working alongside more established renewable technologies such as wind and solar.
What Making Wave Power Work looks at:
As well as providing the reader with a detailed introduction to wave energy, our report goes on to look at the bigger picture, touching on the outcomes of the Paris Climate Treaty (where 194 states and the European Union agreed to secure at least 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030). We look at the social, financial, political and corporate shifts required to move towards 100% renewable energy, highlighting that a number of countries have already decided to set their targets higher than the 40% by 2030 target as the industry gathers momentum.
The report then goes on to provide an economic analysis of the potential that wave power offers. Starting with the global potential (total wave resource across the globe is approx. 80,000 TWh / year of which 4,000 TWh is considered economically exploitable), Making Wave Power Work considers the European market before examining the UK in particular. The UK has already invested £450million into its marine energy supply chain and its coastal waters represent 35% of Europe’s wave energy potential. Making Wave Power Work highlights the UK’s unique position in this market – both in terms of access to resource and state of technological readiness – something that I touched on in my April blog. What the report also warns of is that the UK were in a similar position with wind technology around a decade ago but lost its hold on the market thanks to a slump in support from the UK government. The Danish are now the leading experts on wind, with 40% of its energy supply being generated by wind and an industry which employs 29,000 people and accounts for over 5% of its total exports.
Obviously Making Wave Power Work would be incomplete without an introduction to and rationale for the WaveSub – the wave energy generation device we at MPS have been working on. In the final section of our report we set our device in the context of what we have identified as the four main challenges of energy generation at sea and explain how the WaveSub addresses each of these challenges. We also look at the next steps for the WaveSub ahead of an anticipated grid connection in 2020.
Ultimately, the Making Wave Power Work report seeks to galvanise support from government and urges industry and trade bodies to join up their communications and adjust their focus towards a long-term goal of wave power contributing to 10% of global electricity production by 2050. Abundant, geographically diverse, reliable and renewable, waves have the potential to dramatically transform the future renewable energy landscape on a national and international level.
The long-term ambition of 10% of global production by 2050 can happen with the right investment and support. Our report, Making Wave Power Work is another small but determined step towards this becoming a reality.