By our Brussels Correspondent
The EU has announced details of its new plan to set up an Ocean Energy Forum to accelerate opportunities for harness and exploiting the potential of ‘blue energy’ for generating electricity.
The Ocean Energy Forum will comprise governments, regional directors and industry chief executives across Europe. It will coordinate the approach to dealing with the challenges facing the offshore energy sector and produce a strategy to speed up development.
In a joint Brussels press conference, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, and Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, told Scottish Energy News that ‘ocean energy could help reduce the EU’s carbon footprint and provide a source of clean, reliable and secure energy to the EU.’
The ocean energy sector is highlighted in the EU Blue Growth Strategy as one of five developing areas in the blue economy that could help drive innovation and job creation.
Even though the global potential of ocean energy exceeds mankind’s present and projected future energy needs, a number of these promising new technologies face hurdles on the road to commercialisation. The action plan aims to address and overcome these challenges.
The EU Blue Growth Strategy aims at creating sustainable economic growth and employment in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe’s economic recovery. These economic sectors today provide jobs for 5.4 million people and contribute a total gross added value of around 500 billion euros. By 2020, these should increase to 7 million and nearly 600 billion euros respectively.
Welcoming the proposals for the new Ocean Energy Forum, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, MSP, said that Scotland is already ‘well placed’ to play vital role in this strategic development.
He said: “Scotland is home to 10% of Europe’s wave power potential and 25% of its tidal power and we are leading the way in the development of marine energy technologies.
In the last 12 months, consents have been granted for the world’s largest wave farm – a development by Edinburgh firm Aquamarine Power – off the north-west coast of Lewis, and for the largest tidal stream energy project in Europe – MeyGen’s array project in the Pentland Firth.
“Last year also saw the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney celebrate 10 years of real-sea experience. There have been more grid-connected marine energy converters deployed at EMEC than at any other single site in the world and the centre remains the world’s only accredited marine energy laboratory. “
The Scottish Government has long argued for a more coordinated approach to supporting the sector, a message put forward by Alex Salmond, MP, First Minister during his presentation to delegates at the European Ocean Energy Conference in Edinburgh in October last year, and during the visit of European Energy Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, to Scotland in March 2013