How Badly Is the Wave and Tidal Industry Struggling? Likely Worse Than You Thought  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

GTM has a look at the woeful performance of the ocean energy industry (though it's probably worth noting that South Korea has had some big successes) - How Badly Is the Wave and Tidal Industry Struggling? Likely Worse Than You Thought.

Nearly a decade after the surge of attention in marine energy technologies, the industry has not been able to overcome severe technical and financial challenges. As a result, installations have remained at pilot scale, while financing has been largely limited to government programs for testing and demonstrations.

And new projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that the market for marine energy will be inconsequential for years to come.

According to BNEF, tidal power installations are expected to hit 148 megawatts by 2020, down 11 percent from forecasts made just a year ago. Wave power will be even smaller, with global capacity expected to reach 21 megawatts by the end of the decade -- a 72 percent downward revision from earlier forecasts.

To put that in perspective: SolarCity is installing more solar PV every seventeen days in America than the entire global installed base of wave power through 2020.

The promise of the technology is alluring. The International Energy Agency estimates that wave resources could theoretically provide 29,500 terawatt-hours per year, and tidal could produce more than 1,200 terawatt-hours per year. That's a little bit more than the total primary energy use of the U.S.

But the commercial deployments promised over the last ten years have largely failed to materialize. Between 2007 and 2010, numerous "landmark" projects were scrapped due to faulty equipment and high costs.

Gizmag reports that hope springs eternal in the Severn Estuary, with another plan being floated for a tidal power project in the area - Huge world-first man-made tidal lagoon could power over 155,000 homes.

Energy trade association RenewableUK calls the UK "the undisputed global leader in marine energy." If plans for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay go ahead, that claim will be reinforced. Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay would be the world’s first man-made energy-generating lagoon and could power over 155,000 homes.

Renewable energy is, of course, an area of huge importance and growth. A 2011 study by researchers at University of California-Davis and Stanford University suggests that the world could be powered completely by clean energy within 20-40 years.

Of the renewable options available, tidal is particularly intriguing. Renewable UK says wave and tidal energy could produce around 20 percent of the UK’s current electricity needs, and that the ongoing reduction in its technology costs will make it increasingly viable from a commercial perspective.

The lagoon would be used for a variety of activities other than energy generation Swansea Bay has a high tidal range of up to 10.5 m (34 ft), making it an ideal location for tidal power generation. The proposal would see a 9.5 km (6 mi) lagoon wall constructed, halfway round which would be a 550 m (1,804 ft) turbine housing. The turbine housing would provide a means of allowing water to flow in and out of the lagoon as the tide rises and falls. Up to 26 turbines would be contained in the housing and would be driven with the flow of water in and out of the lagoon.

The Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) development group says the lagoon would provide an energy production capacity of 320 MW and would provide sustainable and predictable electricity for 120 years of operation.


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