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Offshore Renewable Energy & Offshore Renewable Energy

This page provides basic information on the combination between different offshore renewable energies and will be further populated as more information becomes available. 

Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) includes different types of technologies, with varying degrees of development and maturity, and unequal energy generation potential. The combination of these technologies is increasingly being researched to develop synergies, optimise the use of space, and reduce costs (e.g., sharing platforms or energy transfer cables). The accelerated deployment of Offshore Wind Farms (OWF) provides opportunities to develop complementary ORE technologies within OWF facilities. The combination of different ORE technologies can be considered at two stages: 

(1) During the design of the ORE development, the technical constraints of the different technologies must be considered to maximize the potential energy generation of each technology but also to ensure the most efficient maintenance of each. The main challenge is to avoid any effect which could reduce energy generation, such as the wake effect [1] for wind technologies. Energy transmission cables and stations can be shared by ORE operators thanks to a joint network designed to ensure electricity transfer.

(2) Once an existing ORE production unit (for instance OWF) is established, a new ORE technology (wave, current, solar) can be installed within its facility.  In addition, the management of safety and risks is essential during the implementation, especially during the installation of foundations and anchor points for the new facilities, as well as the electrical connections to the production units.

Ongoing research initiatives are investigating the combination of wave, wind and solar to lower the cost of the energy system, as exemplified by the installations developed by EU-funded project PLOCAN [2]. However, challenges remain regarding technical implementation and costs.

SECTORS' CHARACTERISTICS

Offshore Renewable Energy (or Marine Renewable Energy - MRE) is a major source of green energy that significantly contributes to the EU’s 2050 Energy Strategy and the European Green Deal. The EU therefore set ambitious objectives for the marine renewables industry, that will need to scale up five times by 2030 and 25 times by 2050 to support the Green Deal’s objectives [2]

MRE technologies can be broadly divided into 7 categories [3]:

  • Offshore wind power: Electricity is produced by turbines, which harness energy from the wind blowing over stretches of sea;
  • Wave power: capturing the movement of sea waves and turning it into electrical energy;
  • Tidal power: harnessing energy from tides and converting it into electrical energy;
  • Stream Energy: harnessing kinetic energy from currents and turning it into electrical energy;
  • Osmotic power: Collecting the energy released by the difference in salt concentrations when a river flows into the sea;
  • Ocean energy thermal conversion: using the temperature difference between deep water and the surface to generate electricity;
  • Marine biomass: algae could be used to produce fuels.

These technologies have very different degrees of development and maturity: some are already very advanced and widely operated worldwide while others are still at research level. As Offshore Wind Farms (OWF) are the most developed technology when it comes to MRE, they will constitute the main example of OREI in the following pages. 

For more information about EU blue economy sectors please visit the EU Blue Economy Observatory website. 

For more European statistics and data you can also visit the Eurostat website

References

Existing co-existence and multi-use initiatives

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