A new report outlining the potential for wave power to contribute to 10% of global electricity demand by 2050 has been published today by UK based wave technology development company Marine Power Systems (MPS). Making Wave Power Work provides an analysis of the economic and environmental potential that wave power offers both the UK and the rest of the world. It calls on industry and trade bodies to join up their communications around the 10% target and businesses and government to ramp up steady financial support and policy stability.
As outlined by the report the signing of the Paris Climate Change Treaty signalled a commitment to limit global warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures; ultimately, 40% of global energy needs to be sourced from renewables by 2030. Many nations have already surpassed 50% electricity from clean sources, with nearly 100 of the most influential organisations across the globe already committed to sourcing 100% of their electricity from renewables by 2050[i]. In light of this ambition, the report explains the potential of an estimated exploitable global wave resource of 4,000TWh per year. Global electricity consumption is currently circa 21,000 TWh[ii] per year and set to double by 2050[iii]. It uses these figures as a compelling call to industry to embrace this currently underexploited resource and work towards a target of waves providing 10% of the world’s electricity by 2050.
Looking first at the global potential for wave energy (337GW by 2050 with a market value of £76 billion[iv]), the report goes on to examine the strength of the European market. With 45% of wave energy companies based in the EU, the report suggests that subject to the right support over the coming decades, Europe will be able to exploit an annual market worth Euro 53 billion (£46 billion)[v]. Within the European market, the UK is the marine energy leader, holding over a third of Europe’s wave energy generation potential[vi]. With £450 million already invested in the sector, the country is well placed to become a global leader in marine renewables.
However, the message that reaching 10% wave power by 2050 cannot be achieved alone is also reinforced. Making Wave Power Work suggests a lack of information for investors, government and the public on how wave power works needs to be addressed and that discussion must move away from short-term concerns, embrace new low cost technologies and focus on its long-term potential.
Says Dr Gareth Stockman, Managing Director of Marine Power Systems (MPS):
“The world is rapidly transitioning to a low carbon future. Our vision is for wave power to provide 10% of the world’s electricity by 2050. With stable government policy, steady investment and joined up communications from industry partners, the wave energy industry can become an economic success story, following in the footsteps of more mature renewable technologies such as wind and solar to become a source of reliable, affordable, clean energy.”
Marine Power Systems has been developing a wave energy generation device called the WaveSub for the last nine years. Financed using over £5million it secured through private investment and highly competitive grants, the WaveSub is currently in phase three of its development. A 1:4 scale device will be launched for 12 moths of operational sea-testing at the award-winning FaBTest site in Cornwall, UK this autumn. At this point a new round of fundraising to develop a full-scale, multi-MW device will be launched with plans in place to deploy a full size WaveSub farm by 2020.
Along with the environmental benefit of cutting CO2 emissions and helping to meet climate change targets globally, committing to a long-term wave power vision would provide jobs, energy resilience and the associated economic benefits from being a leader in a new renewable energy sector. Making Wave Power Work is a call to government, industry partners and investors to focus on making this vision a reality.
The report is available to read now: Making Wave Power Work.
[i] To date, 96 of the world’s most influential companies including Google, IKEA, Unilever and Tata Motors have now joined RE100; a global renewable energy pledge from the Climate Group and CDP to shift the world to renewable power.
[ii] Global electricity consumption figures: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/electricity-domestic-consumption-data-by-region.html
[iii] Facts which will influence the rate at which consumption will increase include the trajectory of population growth, energy efficiency implementation and the rise of electric transport. The most accurate projections produced by the International Energy Agency’s annual ‘World Energy Outlook’ report.
[iv] Highlands and Islands Enterprise, RegenSW and Marine Energy Pembrokeshire: Marine Energy key steps to maintaining a Great British success story, 2016
[v] Information on the estimated wave energy market potential in Europe can be found in the Ocean Energy Europe (OEE) Market Deployment Strategy: https://www.oceanenergy-europe.eu/images/OEF/140037-SI_Ocean_-_Market_Deployment_Strategy.pdf
[vi] Andrew Thomas et al: Tidal and Marine Energy in the UK. Identifying Future Challenges for supply chain development, 2013