The project, which runs for 24 months, is supported by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) and funded by Intelligent Energy - Europe (IEE). The consortium is comprised of seven partners: European Ocean Energy Association, Wave Energy Centre, DHI, Renewable UK, Carbon Trust, University of Edinburgh and the Joint Research Centre (JRC).
The SI Ocean Project was founded on the premise that 'young' RES technologies need support to play their expected, expanded role in the future.
Project objectives are to stimulate public and private investment in the sector by quantifying the size of market opportunities and providing guidance on optimal site locations. Other goals of the SI Ocean project include generating authoritative assessments on the current costs of wave and tidal technologies to aid strategic targeting of financial support and indicating the timeframe and concrete options for achieving cost-competitiveness with other mainstream RES technologies.
Ocean energy must generate broad support and cooperation across the sector and within Member States. Barriers to implementation must be greatly reduced. The most important expected outcome of the project will be the development of strong working partnerships across the sector. The project will bring together a "Project Group" of over 100 members representing key European target audiences and stakeholders.
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Ocean energy has the potential to contribute significantly (perhaps 25 GW) to Europe's renewable energy requirements in the future (by 2050). Being more predictable than wind energy, it also has good synergies with other renewable energy sources.
Aside from the positive implications for Europe's energy portfolio, the level and nature of the activity associated with ocean energy represents a compelling new economic growth source for Europe's coastal regions. Remember that ocean energy is a global market place for machinery that would currently be invented and supplied from Europe, if its leadership position can be maintained.
The state of the art of ocean energy technology is just at the point of demonstration at full scale and is poised to demonstrate small arrays from 2016, so that full-scale commercial wave farms could be contemplated by 2020.What are some of the exciting new developments?
Tidal stream energy production is now being produced reliably from full-scale machines. Consequently some of the large industrial players (Siemens, Alstom, Andritz, Rolls Royce) have taken on the task of commercialising those products for the market. While wave energy is a little behind tidal stream, companies like Pelamis now have two full-scale machines working alongside each other, indicating good positive signals.
Other positive signals are the appearance of large industrial players (Abengoa, Babcock) focusing on other parts of the supply chain. Vattenfall is participating with Abengoa and Babcock in the setup of the Nautimus Ltd system integrator dedicated to ocean energy.
From a utility perspective the main technical challenges are economic. All of the focus is on the production of cost competitive power, in time to enable viable projects before revenue support is removed. Currently, the cost of demonstrator projects is very high. The challenge is to ensure there is sufficient scope and execution to bring that down.
Each device design has its own technical hurdles to overcome in order to lower the cost of electricity. The central issue, though, is that there are currently too many technology designs in this sector, and there will eventually have to be agreement on a common design (equivalent of the three blade horizontal axis turbine in wind) if we are to achieve accelerated cost performance.What are the main financial challenges and how might these be dealt with?
As mentioned, the cost of demonstrators is very high. However, demonstrators are required to get the knowledge that will drive down costs to sustainable levels. The innovations are known, but time in the water is required to prove them.
The main financial challenge is therefore to secure sufficient risk capital to undertake these projects. In the early stages this will require high levels of grant support from public bodies (such as FP7), alongside R&D money from industry. Later, high revenue support (such as NER300) will be required for the small arrays. This support can decline as the technology performance improves over time.
It is worth emphasizing, however, that if the first devices are in the water now, and it takes three or four iterations of projects to achieve commercial scale (as has been the case with wind), the challenge is to sustain sufficient financial support to run that course. If it appears that revenue support will be cut off prematurely (say in the late 2020's) then industry's willingness to fund the early stages will evaporate.
Naturally the European Ocean Energy Association has a very clearly stated list of requests from Member State governments and the EU. Our own perspective is that ocean energy has the potential to make a very positive contribution both to the energy portfolio and economic development. To secure this, governments need to provide sustained support, both in capital grants and revenue support.
Additionally, governments need to streamline various policy frameworks to allow the three or four iterations of projects to happen in an expeditious manner. Consider, for example, the habitats directives which, when implemented by governments using the precautionary principle, require ocean energy projects to prove a negative environmental impact. But how long do you have to watch in order to prove that there are no dolphins at a given location? A more practical approach is being forged by regions leading ocean energy development, such as Scotland, but they need reassurance and encouragement from the EU.
Meanwhile, a further 13 wind farms were under construction which, once completed, will provide a further 3 762 MW of power. According to an EWEA communiqué, “2012 could turn out to be the best year ever for offshore wind energy in Europe, as a further 160 turbines, totalling 647.4 MW, are built but awaiting grid connection.” This is either because the weather has not been favourable or because of issues with the grid itself.
In all, as of 30 June 2012, 1 503 offshore wind turbines are fully-grid connected in Europe, in 56 wind farms across 10 countries, with a total capacity of 4 336 MW. This is up from 3 294 MW in June 2011 - producing electricity for the equivalent of four million households.
The average size of wind turbines installed and connected to the grid in the first six months of 2012 has also increased by 14.2% compared to the same period last year, reaching 4 MW.
The report is also optimistic about financing the sector, which, it says, “remained solid in the first half of 2012 despite the general challenges of the European banking sector, with several landmark transactions closing this spring.”
Siemens was the leading manufacturer in the first half of 2012, installing 108 units (82%), while REpower installed 20 units (15%) and BARD 4 units (3%). But, the report points out, “as the installed Siemens machines have lower rated capacity than those of REpower and BARD (3.6 MW compared to 6.15 MW and 5 MW), Siemens has a higher share of installed units than installed capacity.”
For further information and to download the full report:
According to the communiqué, the proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (g CO2/km) in 2020 from 135.7g in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130g in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4g in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175g in 2017.
According to analyses by the EC, under the proposed new regulations, each new car will save its owner around EUR 340 in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of EUR 2 904 - 3 836 over the car's lifetime (13 years), as compared to the 2015 target. For vans, the average fuel cost saving is estimated at around EUR 400 in the first year and EUR 3 363 - 4 564 over their 13-year lifetime.
For Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, far from being an extra burden on manufacturers, the new regulations should make the European car industry even more competitive. “EU regulations help car manufacturers to stay focused on innovation,” she said. And, while the consumer will appreciate direct benefits in terms of the costs of running their vehicles, “the biggest achievement will be cleaner air in our cities,” she said.
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New report recommends a Marine Spatial Planning Directive for EU offshore wind, wave and tidal energy installations
It was set up to formulate and promote policy recommendations on how to best address and remove obstacles to offshore renewable energy generation posed by national marine spatial planning (MSP) considerations. With a geographical scope that includes the Atlantic Coast and Irish Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the North Sea, Seanergy 2020 has looked for an approach to offshore energy supply that extends beyond national borders.
The project consisted of three phases, looking at MSP first from a national then an international perspective, before considering the challenges and opportunities of moving from a national to a transnational MSP approach.
According to their national projections, European Union (EU) Member States are set to achieve around 45 GW of offshore renewable generation capacity by 2020, which is more than a ten-fold increase of today’s capacity in less than a decade. Offshore wind energy accounts for the majority of this development (approximately 43 GW) with the remainder (approximately 2 GW) coming from wave and tidal. Offshore renewable energy is therefore increasingly competing with traditional sea users and other emerging activities for space, making it urgent, says the report, “to manage the seas efficiently and effectively, in a coordinated fashion, not only nationally but also across national borders […] This is the essence of MSP.”
The main policy recommendation of the programme is to draft a Marine Spatial Planning Directive. “Although politically challenging,” says the report, “an MSP Directive focused on encouraging cross-border cooperation – supported by national MSP – would require Member States to open direct communication, without dictating outcomes. This option gives cross-border cooperation a firm legal footing, whilst leaving implementation to the Member States, and comes closest to satisfying the understanding of planning competences that exists within the EU.”
The letter reiterated the importance of the EC SET-Plan for a transition to a low carbon economy, saying that “by investing in the steady development of cheaper solar panels, floating wind turbines and many other low carbon technologies, the SET-Plan can hasten the day when renewable energy competes with fossil fuels without subsidies.”
The letter also supported a EUR 40 billion EC proposal to build a European Supergrid. “At least EUR 1 billion a year of these funds,” it says “should be devoted to building ‘electricity highways’ which can connect everyone to the areas with the most abundant renewable energy resources.” It also supported “ring fencing structural funds for electricity highways,” and earmarking “at least EUR 1 billion a year of new and additional funding for EU development assistance to support renewable energy in developing countries.”
The letter was convened by the Climate Parliament, a global organisation made up of legislators from around the world committed to developing effective policies to mitigate climate change.
For more information and a copy of the letter:http://www.climateparl.net/
According to a policy briefing published to coincide with the launch, the study has enabled “the analysis, comparison and better understanding of robust results across different scenario studies.” Specifically, it looked at 11 selected energy scenarios from the four most relevant 2050 energy roadmaps, namely, the EC Energy Roadmap 2050 (2011), the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC)/Greenpeace Energy [r]evolution study (2010), the European Climate Foundation Roadmap 2050 (2010) and the Power Choices study by EURELECTRIC (2009).
According to the policy briefing, some mitigation strategies play a key role in all of the scenarios “and can thus be regarded as ‘robust’ strategies in the decarbonisation process, namely: Significantly speeding up energy end-use efficiency improvements; Ensuring high growth dynamics of renewables until 2020 and beyond; Preventing or at least limiting the construction of CO2 intensive power plants; Ensuring sufficient flexibility of the power system to deal with growing share of renewables.
The main area of disagreement between the various decarbonisation scenarios analysed, says the briefing, was the respective role of nuclear power and CCS technology in any future European power sector. “Uncertainty about these technologies,” it says, “is driven by questions about their costs, their social acceptance but also about their compatibility within a future electricity system dominated by fluctuating renewable energy sources.”
The policy briefing is available here:
The full report will be published on the SEFEP website shortly:
These projects will then be implemented in partnership with cities, with EUR 365 million of EU funding already earmarked for 2013 alone.
With nearly three quarters of Europeans now living in cities and consuming 70% of its energy, cities are obviously central to the transition towards a more sustainable, low carbon economy. However, some of the innovatory technology solutions to achieve ‘smarter’ cities, such as high efficiency heating and cooling systems, smart metering, real-time energy management, or zero-energy buildings, require capital investment at initially high risk. One of the aims of SCC is to take some of the risk out of research and development, by helping to finance demonstration projects, in partnership with cities, and by focusing resources from different sectors.
The Smart Cities and Communities Initiative itself was launched in 2011. In its first year (2012), EUR 81 million was earmarked, covering only the transport and energy sectors. Demonstration projects financed under the scheme can be in either one of the two sectors, rather than the two combined. From 2013, the budget has been increased to EUR 365 million and covers three areas instead of two – energy, transport and ICT. This time, all demonstration projects financed under the scheme must combine all three sectors, in an effort to promote synergies.
The Smart Cities communication can be consulted here:
The EU’s latest call for research proposals aims to stimulate innovation for growth and jobs. ...
Some 21.9 GW were connected to the grid in Europe last year, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010. This means that Europe still has the lion’s share of the global PV market, with 75% of all capacity in 2011. And, in 2011, Italy was the top market, with 9.3 GW connected, followed by Germany with 7.5 GW. Together, Italy and Germany accounted for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year. China was the top non-European PV market in 2011, with 2.2 GW installed, followed by USA with 1.9GW.
While applauding the “remarkable growth trend” for 2011, the report does add a note of caution, saying that “such a rapid growth rate cannot be expected to last forever,” and that “the industry is now weathering a period of uncertainty in the short term.” The report analyses the figures for each country and finds that in some countries policy changes, particularly on feed-in tariffs, have partly accounted for a spurt in growth, with investors responding quickly to high tariffs at the end of 2010, before announced cuts took effect in 2011. This, warns the report, could lead to “boom and bust” cycles of investment which “could threaten PV’s growth momentum by destroying investor confidence.” What is needed, it concludes, is for the industry to prove that PV is now a mature technology – it produces 2% of demand in the EU and almost 4% at peak times. And while policy support, such as through feed-in tariffs, is still crucial, PV is “ready for the next stage of its development,” with major markets outside the EU now to be exploited.
For further information and to access the full report:
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is being tested as a means of storing CO2 emitted by power generation plants and industry, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. It is expected to play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally and is one of the EC SET-Plan technologies underpinning the transition to a low-carbon economy. Offshore storage of the gas is one option, and while leaks are not expected, it is important to assess their potential impact.
The three-year project, Quantifying and Monitoring Potential Ecosystem Impacts of Geological Carbon Storage (QICS), has pumped CO2 through a borehole from an onshore laboratory into a test site 350 metres off the coast for 30 days. The research team is now monitoring the impacts on marine life in the area. The project started in 2010 and is funded by the UK Research Councils (RCUK) and the UK National Environment Research Council (NERC).
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