Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ocean Energy Market Development

Between 2004 and 2008, it has been estimated that the world capital expenditure (CAPEX) on wave energy will be US$140 million, with almost 50% of this in the UK. In the same period, it has been estimated that the world CAPEX on tidal projects will be around US$110 million, with almost 90% of this being related to the UK market. Together wave and tidal energy represent a global market of US$250 million, with US$180 million earned in the UK.

While committed tidal projects are primarily off the East Asian Pacific coasts of Korea and China, the bulk of wave energy projects are being developed in Europe. The UK and Portugal are the countries with the most current activity. In the last year, there has been an advance in the progress of tidal energy, with one barrage already under construction on the Korean coast, the 254 MW Shihwa tidal power plant, and a contract agreed for a second 300 MW tidal lagoon power plant in China. Both are larger than the barrage at La Rance in France, presently the largest in the world.

The technology that is most advanced toward commercialisation is the Pelamis (named after a seasnake), under development by Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. in Scotland. Pelamis is a series of cylindrical segments connected by hinged joints. In August 2004, Pelamis was connected to the UK grid at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in order to be tested. This was the first offshore wave energy to be exported into the UK electricity system.

Sea trials are underway of the Wavegen commercial scale wave energy converter, LIMPET, which is feeding electricity into the supply of the Scottish island of Islay. Ocean Power Technologies’ floating Powerbuoy has undergone successful trials off the coast of New Jersey and is on the way to commercialisation. A number of oscillating water columns have been tested and are also under trial in various parts of the world. Seagoing trial of the 20 kW prototype Wave Dragon tapchan device has proven its offshore survivability since March 2003.

The first commercial grid-connected marine current turbine is currently being test operated at Lynmouth in the UK. A UK£3 million turbine has been built into the seabed about 1.5 km (one mile) offshore from Lynmouth. The single 11 metre-long rotor blade will be capable of producing 300 kW of electricity and will be a test-bed for further tidal turbines.

The first ship to use the technology of oscillating water wings may be the Orcelle, a cargo vessel
transporting up to 10,000 cars from Britain to Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.
The marine renewable sector is currently the focus of much academic and industrial research around the world. Many universities and institutes are engaged in marine renewable research, either developing new concepts or performing fundamental research to support the sector.

An economic analysis indicates that, over the next 5 to 10 years, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants may be competitive in four markets:

• Small island nations in the South Pacific and the island of Molokai in Hawaii.
• American territories such as Guam and American Samoa.
• Hawaii, where a larger, land-based, closed-cycle OTEC plant could produce electricity with a
second-stage desalinated water production system.
• Puerto Rico, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans for floating, closedcycle plants rated at 40 MW or larger.



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