According to a new study by the Carbon Trust up to 240 GW of capacity of marine energy could be installed worldwide by 2050. Out of these, 75 percent could be coming from wave, and the remainder by tidal energy.
The total market for both wave and tidal energies could in a high scenario amount to up £460 billion (520 billion euros or 740 billion USD) over the next decades.
Similarly, the global market could be worth £40 billion (45 billion euros or 65 billion USD) per annum by 2050.
This explains why according to New Scientist, up to a hundred companies are developing devices in this sector.
However, the study warns that only modest deployment could be achieved by the end of this decade. Indeed uncertainty remains high over the various designs and governmental policies.
The study also warns that depending on various factors such as demand-reduction measures, the success of other low carbon sources and technological development, the risk of very little deployment – and even “zero” deployment – remains high.
But what are exactly these energy sources? Here is a quick explanation :
- Wave energy captures the movement of surface water thanks to wind. The longer the distance, the greater the transfer of energy to waves ;
- Tidal energy converts the energy of tides to electricity. Devices used for this are similar to wind turbines, but underwater.
- Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is the third energy source from oceans. It wasn’t covered by the study.
Marine energies offer various advantages over other renewables:
- Production is near consumption as half the global population lives near the coasts ;
- Predictable as the hours of tides are known in advance ;
- Silent, unlike wind turbines ;
- Invisible, unlike all other renewable energy sources.
As a Frenchman I am proud to note that our country developed as early as 1963 the first tidal power plant in La Rance. Connected to the grid in 1967, it provides 600 GWh per annum ever since thanks to its 240 MW capacity. It has been for decades the largest of its kind in the world.
As I noted previously : With less than 10 MW currently installed, experts believe installed power could reach a GW in only six years.
To conclude, it is also worth noting that wave energy could provide up to 10 percent of the United States’ electricity.