Europe Leads in Ocean Energy
European tidal stream installations reached 26.8MW, and wave energy installations 11.3MW in 2018, according to yearly statistics published by Ocean Energy Europe.
Europe continues to lead the world in ocean energy deployments, and last year its tidal projects produced record volumes of electricity.
Annual installations - 3.7 MW of tidal stream capacity was put in the water in 2018. This represents more than twice the capacity installed in 2017, making this a solid year for tidal activity.
26.8 MW of tidal stream technology has been deployed in Europe since 2010. Of this, 11.9 MW is currently operating, and 14.9 MW has been decommissioned as projects successfully complete their testing programmes.
Over the past decade, the sector’s growth has been primarily driven by testing opportunities and RD&I funding programmes. From 2015 onwards, the first pilot farms, as well as high-capacity single devices, make up the bulk of installations.
Further acceleration is anticipated in the coming years, as there is a significant pipeline of tidal stream projects in Europe. Dedicated revenue support at national level is now needed to unlock these large-scale projects.
Six devices were deployed in Europe in 2018 as part of demonstration projects. Half of the turbines installed were rated above 500 kW and half below 150 kW. This reflects the two main development strategies followed by tidal stream players: preparing for utility scale projects and adapting to small scale/ island markets.
Further convergence towards a ‘wind-like’ – horizontal-axis turbine – design can also be observed, although a small number of vertical-axis turbines are also under development.
Annual installations - 500 kW of wave energy was installed in Europe in 2018, mostly from devices producing grid-ready electricity. Installations have been mainly driven by testing opportunities and RD&I funding.
Several wave device developers are also targeting niche markets, such as aquaculture and oil & gas, who are becoming off-takers for ocean-produced electricity. These sectors require electricity to support offshore operations, and make use of smaller, tailored wave energy devices.