According to Ocean Energy System 2014 and Ocean Energy Europe 2016, by 2050, marine energy, whether from tides or waves, will help produce nearly 340 GW of energy globally, 100 GW of which will come from Europe alone.
To achieve this enormous potential as efficiently and beneficially as possible, first we need to further develop the two large families involved in marine energy production systems: one using the motion of the tides, the other using the movement of the waves.
For the first, since 2014, the industry has seen a gradual convergence towards the technology of horizontal axis wind turbines, a system of production that is conceptually similar to wind turbines.
The range of technologies linked to waves is more developed, with more than 2/3 of testing involving point absorbers, where the motion of the waves induces vertical movements that are transformed into energy, oscillating wave surge converters, which use waves to move an aileron, and attenuators, floating systems with special pumps inside, activated by wave patterns.
These are brand new technologies, which will come to complete development – both economic and technological – in the coming years. Today, marine energy is undergoing the same process of gradual development as wind power in the past, which has led to the production of today’s large-scale, three-blade systems, now efficient and competitive.
Once fully mature, thanks to the huge potential available, its widespread availability, stability and predictability, marine energy could become a particularly advantageous renewable source, key to the energy transition.
Enel Green Power’s Marine Energy
For several years now, Enel Green Power has been pursuing the most promising paths to identify and test the most effective, competitive and scalable technologies to transform the treasure of the sea into clean and sustainable energy.
This is why EGP is constantly searching for new tech solutions and open to collaboration with research centers, startups, large companies and SMEs from around the world.
In Italy, for example, EGP is working with a startup from Pisa, 40South Energy on H24, a small device placed near the coast, made up of a fixed piece located on the bottom of the sea or a small structure and a mobile piece that moves with the waves.
With the Finnish company AW-Energy, we are working on the WaveRoller, a submerged underwater converter made up of a panel connected to the sea floor and placed near the coast.
Wello OY, the producer of the WEC Penguin, is also Finnish. This is a rotating eccentric mass connected to a generator, installed inside a hull in order to use the pitching and rolling energy of the waves.
Then there’s the CETO system, developed by the Australian company Carnegie Clean energy over the last ten years: a submerged buoy that, using triple mooring, activates three generators inside the buoy.
And EGP also works alongside research centers like the Chilean Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center (MERIC), which aims to develop marine energy in the South American country. In addition, EGP has recently signed a MoU - Memorandum of Understanding - with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) that aims to encourage knowledge-sharing about the development of marine technologies and about performance assessment, as well as to promote collaboration on marine energy test projects.