OEEC: Various renewables set for numerous markets

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2017 on Tuesday hosted ‘The rise of renewables session’ that offered a quick-scan of various renewable energy technologies currently under development and the markets set for their commercial implementation.

The latest medium-term report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that in the course of the next five years global renewables electricity generation is expected to grow by over one-third to over 8TWh, equal to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, ocean, and solar, are set to take almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology over the years to 2040, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said in its in most recent long-term energy forecast.

In this regard, the session provided an overview on global renewable energy developments, delivered by the moderator of the session, Mike Frampton, Renewables Business Line Director at LOC Group, who also spoke about supply chain and technical developments underpinning the growth of renewables.

The session continued with a presentation from Piet Ackermans, Chairman of Dutch Energy from Water Association (EWA) who talked about Dutch expertise in dealing with water. Namely, Ackermans put a focus on the integration of renewable energy technology with an existing infrastructure.

Such projects that changed the game for the marine energy sector, according to Ackermans, are Tocardo’s Eastern Scheldt tidal array, Tidal Bridge planned for Indonesia, and Grevelingedam Tidal Technology Center.

Ackermans said: “This is a really small industry. But, we think we are on the first stage of breaking through with our new techniques and devices to get projects in the Netherlands and abroad, because we know that the Dutch market is not so big for the industry to develop.

“Our members represent a mix of very small companies and some of the bigger industrial companies. We need this combination of innovative power of the small enterprises and ‘deep pockets’ of big organizations who can help us to bring in the projects and to show our devices everywhere.

“We also lobby for some feed-in tariff as we have a big problem with them because every discussion about it is always about wind. But wind is 20 years ahead of us, so we need a different kind of feed-in tariffs to develop our market.”

OTEC can learn from oil and gas

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology was brought closer to the audience by Berend Jan Kleute, Chief Technology Officer at Bluerise. The company’s planned projects for the Caribbean – in Jamaica and Curacao – were presented, with an emphasis on how OTEC can be exploited for both energy production and cooling.

Also, potential synergies, knowledge and manpower transfer from the oil and gas sector were deemed as tools that could accelerate the growth of the emerging OTEC sector.

Jan Kleute said: “The oil and gas industry already operates for a long time offshore working with pipelines, platforms, mooring lines, power cables. Similarly, OTEC industry can make use of these systems and components, so it makes a lot of sense to learn from the offshore oil and gas industry and join forces. There definitely is an opportunity.

“The scaling experience represents also an opportunity to learn from oil and gas sector. Right now, OTEC runs at scale up to 1MW or even smaller, but in the end we need to reach the size of the plants say 15MW, but to get to that point we need expertise to scale up the technology.

“When it comes to the workforce, there are also many opportunities to consider in relation to oil and gas and OTEC as a lot of similar needs for expertise exist.”

Smaller is better, at least for wave

The session went on with an update on wave energy developments that were presented by Roelof Schuitema, Director at Teamwork Technology.

Schuitema spoke about the potential of wave energy, which is larger than that of offshore wind, as waves are five times denser than wind – resulting in greater energy output.

Also, Teamwork Technology’s changing volume point absorber wave energy device, dubbed Symphony, whose scaled version is currently under construction, was presented in more detail.

Schuitema highlighted the advantages of building smaller scale devices to remove any potential technical issues before proceeding to full-scale construction.

“Survivability is important and you have to build devices without [them] being too large and too costly,” Schuitema said.

Andy Butler from Longitude Engineering wrapped up the session by presenting several case studies where engineering ingenuity managed to deliver solutions that greatly assisted and accelerated the delivery of projects.