Authors and contributors
Pharoah Le Feuvre
IEA (2019), "Tracking Power", IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/tracking-power-2019
Electricity generation from marine technologies increased an estimated 3% in 2018. The tracking status of marine power remains unchanged because it is still not on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which requires much higher annual growth of 24% through 2030.
Advanced marine projects for power generation ranging from 10 kW to 1 MW have been deployed mostly in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and China. However, these demonstration and small commercial projects remain expensive and have not yet achieved the economies of scale necessary for significant cost reductions.
Marine technologies hold great potential, but additional policy support is needed for RD&D to enable the cost reductions that come with the commissioning of larger commercial plants.
Technology innovation and learning by research are key to advance ocean power to maturity. Research should focus on key components and sub-systems, simplifying installation procedures to keep costs down, Advanced design concepts that are currently in the very early stages of innovation could break through, including ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), salinity gradient power and ocean current technology.
The vast majority of ocean technologies today are either wave or tidal energy. Increasing annual generation to reach SDS levels will also require that investments be diversified towards other alternative concepts and technologies such as ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), salinity gradient power and ocean current technology.
Wave power captures kinetic and potential energy from ocean waves to generate electricity. Wave energy converters (WECs) are intended to be modular and deployed in arrays, but at present there is little design consensus for wave energy devices with no industry-standard device concept. Due to the diverse nature of wave resources, it appears unlikely that there will be one single device concept that is used. Rather, there will probably be a small number of device types that exploit different regions of this vast resource. These concepts however need to be trialed at scale.