Producing energy from the sea is no easy task: elevated costs, the development of sustainable technology and bureaucratic obstacles were identified as the weaknesses holding back the growth of the market at the recently held Ocean Energy Forum meeting in Dublin, a workshop whose goal is to create the strategic roadmap for blue energy outlined by Brussels.
The Forum also launched the TP Ocean – Technology & Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy, an initiative that aims to outline what needs to be done to commercialise ocean energy by 2025.
Today Europe's blue economy employs five million people across a range of sectors, from fisheries to offshore renewable energy. This includes the production of wind energy, in addition to the use of waves, tides and sea currents. Sea water can also produce energy through the difference in temperatures between surface and deep waters, and the difference in salinity between saltwater and freshwater. The sector could create jobs and satisfy as much as 78 percent of the European Union's renewable energy consumption.
However, it is important that we improve knowledge of ocean resources in order to understand how to use them in a sustainable way. A total of 30 percent of Europe's seabed has not yet been surveyed due to the lack of available skills for the development of an industrial supply chain. This has also been demonstrated with offshore wind farms, a sector that could reach 30 percent of installed wind power capacity by 2020 and potentially create 191,000 jobs.
Blue energy is a new frontier to which Enel is already committed to traversing. The Group is developing offshore wind power technology and has launched the second testing phase for the R115 marine wave energy converter, which installed off the coast of Punta Righini in Italy at the end of 2013. The innovative machine, designed in collaboration with 40South Energy, can generate up to 220 megawatt-hours per year. Further research is being carried out on this type of device, which has zero impact on the environment and is easy to maintain and install, in order to increase the power it can generate and take it in both further into the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the ocean, in particularly around Chile and the USA.