What Are the EU Plans for Ocean Energy?
Nov 27 2016
In the wake of the Paris climate change talks last December, it’s clear that the time for change is now when it comes to amending our polluting habits and reducing our carbon footprint. With 193 leaders from all over the world agreeing to curb global warming by a maximum of 2°C and a preferred target of 1.5°C, governments and companies everywhere are attempting to wean themselves off of fossil fuels.
The EU is hoping to meet its own ambitious targets by investing heavily in ocean energy, among other avenues of renewable energy production. This month, it announced it would be investing €320 million in ocean energy development programmes in the hopes that this underexplored method of energy generation can provide as much as 10% of the bloc’s total needs by 2050.
A booster for fledgling energy companies
Though there is a growing emphasis being placed upon the need for us to switch from harmful fossil fuels to a more eco-friendly alternative as the primary source of power, thriving in the renewable energy economy is a difficult business. Companies looking to make the transition from the planning and design stage to the full roll-out of practicable machines often find themselves under-funded and struggling to stay afloat.
The EU is hoping to change that with the introduction of the new scheme. It will comprise of €250 in investment grants for promising projects, with a further €70 earmarked for guarantees, loans and insurance policies. “It is a comprehensive, inclusive and ambitious plan for building up ocean energy in Europe – from the initial R&D all the way to the industrial roll-out,” explained Karmenu Vella, chief environment commissioner for the EU.
Trade groups have welcomed the news as alleviating the financial stress on ocean energy companies. Ocean Energy Europe, chaired by Rémi Gruet, were vocal in their praise of the scheme: “Bridging the gap between risk-averse commercial lenders and public authorities with limited budgets requires rethinking project finance,” said Gruet. “The roadmap proposes just that, solutions fit for the purpose of reducing risk and unlocking capital: milestone-bound grant awards, guarantees and insurance.”
Good for the environment, good for the economy
At present, roughly half of all tidal and wave energy enterprises are based in Europe, and the EU’s investment in the industry’s ongoing development could lead to the generation of €53 billion per year, with total profit reaching €653 by 2050.
Four ocean energy products are scheduled for implementation in the coming years and are estimated to provide a combined potential of up to 1.5GW of energy, as well as creating up to 400,000 jobs in the process. One of these projects is the MeyGen project in Scotland, which is being carried out by Atlantis Resources. Although the initial stage will only yield 6MW of power, the project is expected to be developed to a point where the plant has a total capacity of 398MW in 2025.
“Atlantis has 640MW in our Scottish portfolio alone, the realisation of which represents nothing less than the creation of a new manufacturing sector for Europe based on predictable, reliable, renewable energy,” said Tim Cornelius, CEO of Atlantis Resources.
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