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Energy from the ocean and tides starting to look promising

According to new research from IHS Emerging Energy Research, there are more than 45 wave and tidal prototypes expected to be ocean tested in 2010 and 2011 signaling that the ocean power industry may be set to take off over the next year.

The research outlet estimates that more than 1.8 GW of ocean projects in 16 countries are currently in the pipeline. For reference, IHS said that only 12 projects were installed in 2009. The UK is currently the world's leading market for ocean energy, with 300 MW of projects in the pipeline seeking to be installed over the next five years, according to IHS.

Ireland, France, Portugal, South Korea and Australia are also key ocean energy markets and will remain the industry's primary focus for the next decade, according to the study.

Of the various forms of ocean energy, tidal energy is poised to mature first, mostly due to the fact that major hydro players understand the technology and are starting to enter the industry. Tidal is attracting major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) into the ocean energy industry's supply side, according to IHS.

"The strong synergies between tidal turbine manufacturing and the hydro power industry have attracted major power sector OEMs," said IHS Senior Renewable Power Analyst Marianne Boust. "Over the past two years, all three of the major hydro power turbine vendors – Andritz Hydro, Alstom Hydro, and Voith Hydro – who account for over 80 percent of the total global hydro turbine supply, have jumped into the tidal sector."

"Large hydro players see tidal as a synergistic growth opportunity, with at least 150 GW of installed capacity potential globally. Traditional hydro players are critical to catalyzing faster development and commercialization of the tidal industry," added Boust. Greater involvement by large OEMs will help the ocean energy industry overcome its technological challenges and drive down costs.

Several key players active in Europe's scaling offshore wind industry, are also turning their attention to ocean energy as they scale their renewable portfolios, said IHS. Major European utilities led by Iberdrola-ScottishPower, Vattenfall, RWE and SSE have an extensive presence in offshore wind, and each has expanded its offshore activities to include ocean energy. While a few have taken equity stakes in ocean technology promoters, most are now shifting to fund project development joint ventures.

"Continued policy support and the entrance of established energy players competing alongside maturing technology promoters signal the ocean industry's potential to advance along the learning curve and to emerge as a scalable renewable energy alternative during the next decade," Boust said.

This article was reprinted with permission from RenewableEnergyWorld.com as part of the PennWell Corporation Renewable Energy World Network and may not be reproduced without express written permission from the publisher.

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