Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marine renewable energy definition

Term „marine renewable energy“ refers to several different renewable energy sources such as wave, tidal, offshore wind, ocean currents, exploitation of salinity and temperature gradients and using algae for biofuel production.

Out of all these renewable energy sources, only offshore wind has reached certain point in terms of development while others are mostly in testing phase, limited to several prototype projects, in need of more funds and scientific research before reaching level when they can be seriously considered as the “right energy sources” in terms of commerciality.

Many marine renewable sources have abundant potential, but converting this potential into a cost-competitive energy source will certainly take some time, while technologies needed for harnessing these sources reach maturity age.

How big is the potential of marine renewable energy sources? If we are to believe the Marine Board of the European Science then marine renewable energy sources could by 2050 satisfy up to 50% of electricity needs in Europe. As you can see the potential of these energy sources is most certainly there.

Offshore wind is by far the most popular marine renewable energy source

Even despite the big potential, the marine renewable energy technologies are yet to attract any more significant investment. The only exception to this is offshore wind energy that is growing at a very fast pace, and is by far the most popular marine renewable energy source.

The current offshore wind energy leader is United Kingdom. China has already announced big plans for offshore wind energy expansion while U.S. is yet to give offshore wind energy a decent chance. The rapid development of offshore wind energy could play major role in clean energy race, and could well become the thing that will separate winners from losers, so U.S. should definitely focus lot more on this energy source.

The science will play major role in future development of marine renewable energy technologies. The scientific research must not only focus on how to make marine renewable energy technologies cheaper and more efficient but it also needs to study their environmental impact (the possible damage done to marine ecosystems).

Marine renewable energy sector, if properly developed, could lead to many new jobs and improve our energy security by reducing the need for foreign fuel import. The UK Government, for instance, has already announced plans that offshore wind energy industry will provide 70,000 jobs in the U.K by 2020.

Marine renewable energy can lead to both environmental as well as economic benefits, but only if it reaches adequate commercial level in global energy market.