On June 14, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella inaugurated the first major assembly plant for tidal turbines and devices, built by Naval Energies in Cherbourg, France. Tidal power is a form of hydroelectric power, or ocean power, whereby turbines convert tidal kinetic energy 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 to 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 Europe’s coastal regions and communities.”
Europe: world leader in ocean energy
Thanks to its favorable 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 has 2,000 highly skilled jobs, mainly in research and development.
According to Commissioner Vella, the EU has everything in hand to “build on its current technological leadership to create a new industry in the decade to come”.
Support 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 energy 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 is currently supporting 17 ocean energy projects, worth €124 million. New types of financial support, such as the forthcoming EU investment platform for the blue economy or the investEU fund for strategic investments, offer further opportunities to build investor confidence and reduce costs. Last month, in May, the European Commission organized Blue Invest, a matchmaking event between companies and investors for the blue economy. A pitching session, where selected companies could present their project on stage in front of a jury of professional investors, was completely dedicated to ocean energy.