The current cost of energy from initial tidal and wave energy farms has been estimated to be in the range of 15-55 cents/kWh,and for initial tidal stream farms in the range of 11-22 cents/kWh.For future tidal, wave and stream energy plants, generation costs of 10-25cents/kWh are expected by 2020, and a dynamic growth following the pattern of wind energy.
Ocean energy, particularly offshore wave energy, is a significant resource and it could satisfy an important percentage of electricity supply worldwide. Globally, the potential of ocean energy has been estimated at around 90,000 TWh/year. The most significant advantages are its vast availability and high predictability, plus technology with very low visual impact and no CO2 emissions. Many different concepts and devices have been developed, to take energy from the tides, waves, currents and both thermal and saline gradient resources. Many of them are in an advanced phase of research and development; large scale prototypes have been deployed in real sea conditions and some have reached pre-market deployment. There are a few grids connected, fully operational commercial wave and tidal generating plants.
Future areas for development will include concept design, optimisation of the device configuration, reduction of capital costs by exploring the use of alternative structural materials, economies of scale and learning from operation. According to the latest research findings, the learning factor is estimated to be 10-15% for offshore wave and 5-10% for tidal stream. In the medium term, ocean energy has the potential to become one of the most competitive andcost effective forms of generation. Present cost estimates are based on analysis from the European NEEDS project.
employment in wave and tidal energy
Under the Reference scenario, employment in various forms of ocean energy is negligible. Under the Energy [R]evolution projections, it would become a new entrant to the energy market,and could provide over 10,000 jobs by 2030. Under “business as usual approach” this innovative, clean technology would employ less than one thousand people.
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