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Pan European Networks: Science & Technology



European Union be of help?” he asked, and

“how can we support you to move from

potential to reality?

“Two years ago, back in 2014, we started a

process to achieve two precise things: firstly,

we wanted to understand what is slowing down

the development of this sector – what were the

bottlenecks, the obstacles to growth and

development; and, secondly, we wanted to

encourage good ideas for overcoming these

bottlenecks – and not just ‘good ideas’, but

practical solutions. How did we do this? We

set up the Ocean Energy Forum, a forum that

brings together the industry and the public

sector around common goals: a public private

round table, a forum to propose solutions,

pulling in the same direction and pooling our

resources. The Ocean Energy Strategic

Roadmap is our chosen tool to make this

approach happen in reality. The roadmap will

be a blueprint for the ocean energy sector that

is shared by the industry and the public sector.

The forum produced a first draft in October,

when we came together in Dublin, Ireland. I

think we are still on track.”

a global lead in this sector: 45% of wave energy companies and 50% of

tidal energy companies are based in Europe.

“And now, even large multinationals are sitting up and taking notice.

Apple is working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to fund

ocean energy research worth €1m, and Shell recently awarded

innovation prizes to two ocean energy companies,” he said.

Destined for success

These companies are interested, Vella argued, because they share the

view that “this is an industry destined for success” something perhaps

evinced by the fact that the net potential of ocean energy “exceeds that

of wind energy and solar energy many times over”.

Given this potential, the commissioner argued, “the companies that crack

the nut first – and that means working out how to harness this energy

at an affordable cost – will have access to a huge global market. The

Carbon Trust speaks of €535bn cumulative market value by 2050. Many

companies are getting ready to take a share of that market.

“Within Europe we have seen much progress in the past two to three

years. Major demonstration projects are springing up: the MeyGen

project, or the pilot farms in the Raz Blanchard in Normandy, France. The

Netherlands have taken a big step forward with their Eastern Scheldt

project, which already delivers power to about 1,000 households. And

there are many other projects, small and large, in the pipeline.”

Having hitherto concentrated on why the commission is supporting ocean

energy and, indeed, why this backing is set to continue, Commissioner

Vella then discussed how this support is going to be lent. “How can the


Ocean energy will be

crucial in meeting

future electricity

demand – something

which the environment

commissioner said can

be expected to “soar”

if and when electric

vehicles become more

widely utilised