Photo: Illustration/Orbital Marine's O2 tidal turbine (Courtesy of Orbital Marine Power)

IEA-OES: Sustained innovation and cross-border collaboration marks 2021 for ocean energy

Ocean Energy Systems (OES), a technology collaboration program within the International Energy Agency (IEA), has provided an overview of ocean energy activities in 2021 in its newly released annual report.

Illustration/Orbital Marine's O2 tidal turbine (Courtesy of Orbital Marine Power)
Illustration/Orbital Marine’s O2 tidal turbine (Courtesy of Orbital Marine Power)

The IEA-OES 2021 Annual Report offers the most comprehensive annual overview of national policies, research and technology demonstration on ocean energy in its member countries. The report also presents the achievements and progress of OES collaborative projects.

Despite being a challenging year, 2021 saw sustained innovation and cross-border collaboration, leading to continued offshore testing and deployment of ocean energy prototypes, according to the report.

The paper reveals that several projects achieved extensive operating hours and a growing range of devices are being tested at open sea.

National governments are also showing positive signs to developers and investors by supporting the sector, with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announcing the passage of the ‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’, a legislation that will provide billions of dollars in federal funding to a variety of infrastructure and clean energy projects across the country, including funds applicable for ocean energy.

Also, the approval of the ‘Australian Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021’ is seen as a strong step forward in support of Australian ocean energy development.

In China, the approval of ‘The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035’, is expected to ensure political commitment to ocean energy development in the country.

The EuropeWave scheme, jointly backed by the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Wave Energy Scotland and Ocean Energy Europe has selected seven wave energy projects for support to further develop their device concepts, using a pre-commercial procurement scheme.

Multi-country research and innovation projects, particularly supported by European Union funding, are contributing to significantly improving the overall reliability, energy yield, availability, operating costs and lifetime costs of complete ocean energy systems, the report states.

Yann-Hervé De Roeck, chairperson of OES, said: “This 2021 OES report can be read as twofold: indeed on the one hand, the testimony that many countries now see ocean energy as one of the practical levers of the energy transition and have taken programmatic and financial decisions to support the sector; in the other hand, the OES Technology Collaborative Program has launched an updated and ambitious strategic plan, building on the flow of results from ongoing projects.”

In 2021, progress has been made on a number of OES collaborative strategic tasks, including the ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) task, which culminated in the launch of the white paper on OTEC, calling for political awareness of the need to work together to develop OTEC much faster than its current pace.

For a number of years, OES-Environment has been working towards risk retirement for stressors that may affect marine animals and habitats. While the issues that surround these interactions have not been entirely solved with respect to consenting, the research and monitoring underway around the world is making great strides.

Further, the International Evaluation and Guidance Framework published in 2021 builds the foundations of a clear, unambiguous evaluation methodology for cost-efficiency and technical success of ocean energy technologies.

Beyond the delivery of the annual paper for 2021, OES has continued to engage and collaborate, progressing towards an internationally agreed process for maturation and evaluation of ocean energy technology.

“Working internationally enables nations to pool talent and resources to address global challenges that no country can tackle alone. This report reflects the benefits of cross-cutting coordination between different levels of industry, academia, and government,” IEA-OES said.

OES is the short name for the technology collaboration program on ocean energy systems under the IEA.

The technology collaboration program, a multilateral mechanism established by the IEA, was created with a belief that the future of energy security and sustainability starts with global collaboration.

The program is made up of thousands of experts across government, academia and industry in over 50 countries dedicated to advancing common research and the application of specific energy technologies.

The aim of OES is to advance research, development and demonstration of conversion technologies which harness energy from all forms of ocean renewable resources.