On 14 June, European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella inaugurated the world’s first large assembling plant for tidal turbines and devices, built by Naval Energies in Cherbourg, France. Tidal energy is a form of hydropower, or ocean energy, whereby turbines convert the kinetic energy of the tides into electricity.
Speaking at the opening, Commissioner Vella expressed the importance of this emerging industry for Europe. “The EU needs ocean energy to successfully transition towards a low-carbon economy”, he said. “Renewable energy from the sea is great news for the environment. But it is also fantastic news for the economic development of European coastal regions and communities.”
Europe: world leader in ocean energy
Due to its favourable conditions and the availability of a highly skilled workforce, including world-class marine engineers, Europe is at the forefront of ocean energy development. The sector accounts for 2,000 high-skilled jobs, mostly in research and development. The EU hosts:
- 50 % of the world's tidal energy developers;
- 60 % of wave energy developers, and
- 70 % of the ocean energy research and testing infrastructure.
According to Commissioner Vella, the EU has all in hand to “build on its current technological leadership and create a new industry in the decade to come”.
Supporting the transition from research to market
While offshore wind energy has already deployed very large capacities, ocean energy is still in its infancy. But the projections are promising. By the middle of this century, around 10% of the European Union’s power demand could be met by ocean energy.
To accelerate development and improve reliability and performance, the EU directly funds technological developments and test centres. Through Horizon 2020, the EU currently supports 17 ocean energy projects, worth 124 million euros. New types of financial support, such as the upcoming EU investment platform for the blue economy or the investEU fund for strategic investments, offer further opportunities to create confidence for investors and reduce costs.
Last month, in May, the European Commission has organised Blue Invest, a matchmaking event between companies and investors for the blue economy. One pitching session, in which selected companies could pitch their project on stage in front of a professional jury of investors, was fully dedicated to ocean energy.
- Publication date
- 14 June 2018
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries