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Innovation and integrity

The resource-rich oceans have the potential to aid in the tackling of

numerous challenges, not least meeting future electricity demand –

something which the environment commissioner said can be expected

to “soar” if and when electric vehicles become more widely utilised.

“To deal with this challenge,” he argued, “we will need innovation and

ingenuity. We will need to come up with fresh, bright ideas for how to

power our rapidly evolving economies and at the same time move

towards the ambitious climate targets that we agreed in Paris in

December. Offshore wind ticks these two boxes. But our oceans have

more forms of renewable energy to offer: waves, tides, salinity and

thermal power.”

Wind power, of course, is significantly more advanced than energy from

the oceans. However, despite the technology being effectively in its

infancy, Vella said, there is one thing which inspires confidence, and that

is the nature of the companies involved. The commissioner added:

“Europe’s past economic successes have often been built on innovative

SMEs, and the ocean energy sector is full of such companies.

“They are scattered across the continent: most of them in the countries

of the Atlantic Arc, but a few are also based in land-locked countries.

Many of them have already managed to raise hundreds of millions of

euro and push the technology development a good few steps ahead. Yes,

there have been setbacks and there have been hopeful ventures that

didn’t make it, but trial and error is a natural and even useful part of the

innovation process. As Thomas Edison put it: ‘I have not failed. I’ve just

found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ The fact remains that the EU has

investment, create jobs, and put Europe back

on the path to greater prosperity”.

For the commissioner, Europe’s seas have a

crucial role to play here, with a “sustainable

‘blue’ economy – which draws on the

opportunities in our seas and oceans” worth

investing in. “Every penny, every cent that

governments and companies put in will not only

yield financial returns. It will improve our

wellbeing, our environment and our quality of

life,” he argued.

Drawing on the offshore wind sector to

substantiate this, Vella highlighted how this

sector “has grown from almost nothing to its

current size in only 15 years. Meanwhile, the

costs of electricity from offshore wind have

come down rapidly – by 25% between 2010

and 2015.

“The building and maintenance of offshore

wind farms created more than 70,000 new

jobs. And let’s not forget: the companies that

embraced this technology have added millions

of euro to their balance sheets. Offshore wind

farms are now a big business indeed. In the first

half of 2015, European projects worth €7.1bn

got the go-ahead.”

www.paneuropeannetworks.com

Pan European Networks: Science & Technology

19

213

Commissioner Vella

began by pointing out

how, as Scotland

increasingly focuses

on ocean energy,

this is “creating a

whole new industry in

the process”

© European Union 2016

ENERGY