Ocean Energy is still in its early stages of development and its contribution to global energy production is not highly significant yet. Nevertheless, the resource is abundant and well distributed around the world, in many cases close to high energy demand in coastal areas.
Technologies to harness ocean energy are not mature enough, with some reliability and survivability problems, leading to high costs of energy in comparison to other sources.
However, renewable energy sources from the ocean will be indispensable actors for a long-term clean energy mix, contributing to ensure a world-wide energy supply near the point of local use.
I am very happy to see this commitment reflected in the country summaries of this annual report and I would particularly like to thank the contribution of US DoE, Wave Energy Scotland, Nagasaki Marine Industry Cluster Promotion Association, the European Commission and the Inter-American Development Bank addressing a set of questions that the reader can find in Chapter 4.Ocean Energy is therefore facing a dilemma: how to fund technological development and first deployments at sea oriented to gain experience, improve performance, limit risks and finally reduce costs in a challenging long-term scenario. The participation of public bodies committed to a clean energy future using indigenous sources is essential to help solve this dilemma. It can bridge the gap between a promising present and a profitable future.
As stated before, high energy costs are probably the main drawback for the penetration of ocean energy in the energy mix. I would therefore like to highlight the Cost of Energy report produced by the OES as one of our main outcomes in 2015. This report provides an authoritative view on what cost reductions are feasible for the next future. The OES is continuing this task with an international technology roadmap, expected to be published in the first half of 2016, which will identify priority focus areas and investments to accelerate ocean energy technology development, allowing cost reductions to be realised.
Other relevant challenges faced by Ocean Energy are those connected to environmental and consenting issues. Although Ocean Energy must be considered as a positive contributor to global climate change actions, local environmental aspects have to be tackled when a particular project is defined and a long consenting process might be necessary. The OES is aware of this situation and is currently working on two tasks dealing with these topics. On one hand, Annex IV provides access to knowledge and information related to research, monitoring, and evaluation of the environmental effects of offshore renewable energy projects. The main tool implemented is Tethys, the online knowledge management system which supports Annex IV data and is expected to continue expanding.
On the other hand, in task 8, the OES is collecting inputs from all OES members providing a coherent overview of the consenting processes: Marine Spatial Planning and site selection, regulatory issues, environmental impact assessment requirements, consultation and challenges to the consenting process.
I am convinced that the OES is playing a significant role in ocean energy development and we want to continue supporting this emerging sector over the next few years.
To that end, in its latest Executive Committee meeting in November 2015, the OES decided to request the IEA to grant a 5-year extension of its current mandate, due to finish in 2017. Thanks to the commitment and support of all current OES members, and newcomers such as India and the European Commission, I am sure that this extension will be approved and the OES will continue working for ocean energy in 2017 and beyond.
Please enjoy this OES annual report, briefly presented by Ana Brito e Melo, OES Executive Secretary, in the next section.