Offshore Wave Energy is a distributed, reliable and dense energy source. As a matter of fact, the European potential is currently estimated at 300GW, located along the Atlantic Ocean coastlines. Instead, the global assessed wave energy potential is valued at 2TW. Consequently, considerable financial and human resources were invested in the development of wave energy applications in the past 10 years.
The Main Challenges
Nowadays, some of the main challenges that the wave energy sector faces are:
- The demonstration of low-cost, low-carbon technological solutions able to reliably generate electricity on a large scale;
- The generation of new knowledge and technologies by multinational consortia that can leverage specific experiences of national champion partners;
- The identification of a standard technology around which to start building a European industrial supply chain;
- The establishment of solid business initiatives for creating the proper ecosystem for the market uptake of novel wave energy innovation.
The above are well in line with the priority Societal Challenge of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme “Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy“. While the offshore wave energy resource is vast, it has been challenging to identify a standard technological architecture. In fact, it should:
- work continuosly, withstanding the forces of the marine environment;
- provide efficient energy supply;
- meet grid-parity or market-parity targets on the long-term.
A Race for the Ultimate Technology
Starting from the academic research, several spin off companies embraced the challege over the past years, collecting relevant funding from both public organization and private companies. Europe is at the forefront of such technology development effort. Nonetheless, as of today, the market has yet to identify a standardized solution to exploit wave energy. If you consider the wind sector, for example, the three blades horizontal axis turbine represents the well established predominant architecture. Instead, in the wave energy field many different technological solutions are competing to exploit this relevant untapped resource.
In Wave for Energy we joined the race for the development of a new wave energy converter, named ISWEC. In the future years we have a challenging roadmap for the deployment of prototypes in real sea conditions. Thus we aim to contribute in advancing the know-how of the industry.