Ocean Energy Europe recently held their annual conference in Edinburgh for the second time in October 2018. Ocean Energy Europe represents the interests of Europe’s ocean energy sector and is the largest network of ocean energy professionals in the world. We are delighted to welcome Ocean Energy Europe to demonstrate Edinburgh’s strengths in the marine sector.
The annual Ocean Energy Europe Conference & Exhibition is the meeting point for the entire ocean energy sector. With the theme of ‘working locally, growing globally’, what were the key learnings to come out of this year’s conference?
The OEE2018 conference highlighted many of the successes that the sector has achieved this year: record-breaking power generation from Orbital Marine Power’s tidal device; the coupling of a tidal array with battery storage for the first time for Nova Innovation; and the successful completion of testing for wave and tidal developers Corpower and Minesto. These are just a few examples among many - a lot of progress has been made in building this new industry, and there was a very positive atmosphere at the event as a result.
Reflecting the 2018 theme, the sessions demonstrated the international reach of ocean energy. As well as the projects hitting the water in Europe, ocean energy initiatives as far afield as Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia and North America show the export potential of these technologies.
The conference also showed the impact this development can have. When a machine is deployed, the benefits for the local area are easy to see – jobs for engineers, barge operators, divers, concrete suppliers (to name but a few) and locally-produced electricity that is both clean and reliable. But it doesn’t stop there: people from all over Europe are also involved in designing and manufacturing every device, from research and testing centres, to companies providing steel parts, specialist coatings or tiny electrical components.
What makes Edinburgh a good destination to host an ocean energy conference?
Scotland has long been at the forefront of ocean energy development, with first-class testing infrastructures, innovative companies and a skilled workforce used to operating in offshore environments. Edinburgh is easy to get to, whether people are coming from remote Scottish islands or capital cities around the world. It also has some great venues and architecture, and a unique atmosphere – it’s a city with a strong sense of self that welcomes visitors very warmly.
Why is the ocean so important in generating renewable energy?
Renewable energies are already replacing fossil fuels; this trend will only continue. But the world needs a mix of clean energy sources that will balance and complement each other. Ocean energy is a fundamental part of this mix: its predictability is a real asset when it comes to meeting electricity demand. It’s also 100% green and infinitely available – as long as there are waves and tides, we can produce energy from them. Finally, its economic potential is significant – for coastal regions (and others!), it will bring jobs and investment, often to areas in need of revitalisation.
How has ocean energy evolved in recent years?
Ocean energy has made significant strides forward in the past few years. We are now dealing in full-size machines that are proven to work - the first tidal ‘farms’ have emerged and projects in the water are generating more and more electricity for local communities. Wave energy, too, is rapidly becoming commercial, with successful testing data showing that machines are performing consistently well.
How do you expect ocean energy to develop in the next ten years?
As the sector streamlines its activities and costs go down, ocean energy will become a mainstream part of the European energy mix and will be exported all over the world. New and existing ocean energy projects will bring power to millions of households and thousands of jobs to communities around Europe. Continuing political support at all levels is crucial if Europe is to stay at the front of the pack – there are massive gains to be had, both economically and environmentally.