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help the ocean energy sector take advantage of the EFSI. This is why …

work in the Ocean Energy Forum matters today and tomorrow.”

While upfront capital support is essential if the ocean energy sector is to

evolve and fulfil its potential, the need for the foreseeable future, at least

for revenue support, is also clear. Vella informed the delegates in

Edinburgh that the EU firmly believes that “renewable energy should

stand on its own two feet, and I am convinced it will.

“However, ocean energy is the youngest member of the renewable

energy family, so let’s not put the cart before the horse. We need stable

and sufficient revenue support schemes in all the countries that are

serious about developing this industry. So we are looking to governments

to do their part.”

Driving growth

Bringing his address to a close, Commissioner Vella advised his audience

that the natural resources from the oceans have so far been underused

and, if utilised responsibly, they have the potential to “drive prosperity in

Europe in the decades to come”. He added: “It is clear that ocean energy

industry can drive economic growth in coastal regions and beyond. It

can create many jobs – good jobs. It can help Europe become a number

one in renewables. It can help Europe export technologies worldwide.

And it can fight climate change, protecting the very environment that

allows these technologies to function in the first place. By the middle of

the century ocean energy could help avoid 276 million tonnes of CO


emissions annually.”

Progress here is positive, but there remains work to be done – the

finalising of the strategic roadmap and a move from broad

recommendations to what the commissioner called “workable and

concrete action”.

By pooling resources, more demonstration arrays can be launched and,

as the commissioner said in his concluding remarks, it is now extremely

important for the momentum gained thus far to be maintained in order

to ensure a well-structured and well-funded sector, which will help to

boost European innovation and job creation.


Turning his attention to what he called “one

particular challenge,” the commissioner then

highlighted the issue of upfront financing. He

said: “Ocean energy, like most renewables,

requires a lot of upfront capital.

“It took quite a lot of private and public funding

for the wind and solar sectors to take off, but

look where they are now. Energy from the seas

is bound to get cheaper, so there is a case to

be made both for private and public investment,

but we must think in the long term. Utilities in

particular must get to know an unfamiliar

sector, and they must [agree] to take on some

of the risks.”

Due to ocean energy technologies being

relatively new, there is an inevitable risk

involved; public financing is therefore incredibly

important. While numerous governments have

made resources available, Vella said, he also

urged these governments not to “ask for

projects to fit your funding – make the funding

fit the projects. Resources, both human and

financial, have been squandered in the past

because funding programmes did not reflect

the particularities of this young sector.

“We, the European Union, are investing in

ocean energy. We are funding ocean energy

from our Regional Development Fund, from

our research funding tools, and we stand ready

to use the European Fund for Strategic

Investments (launched by the European

Commission just over a year ago).”

Until now, the commissioner revealed,

European research programmes have

contributed over €150m, with last year’s annual

contribution from Horizon 2020 being the

highest yet, at €41m. “This,” Vella said, “is

almost double last year’s allocation.”

Development to deployment

The next challenge, Vella added, will be to go

beyond development, and to move to

deployment: “We are talking to the European

Investment Bank. Not so long ago, the bank

launched a special fund for energy

demonstration. We recently organised a

workshop for the ocean energy industry to help

it get acquainted with this new opportunity. I am

working with the EIB to see how ocean energy

could become more prominent in the bank’s

future operations. An investment platform could

Pan European Networks: Science & Technology




The next challenge,

Vella said, will be to

go beyond

development, and to

move to deployment

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