Marine Energy Event: ‘Marine energy is not a niche market’

Marine Energy Event (Photo: Navingo)

Marine Energy Event, held on October 11, 2017, as part of Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2017 in Amsterdam, gathered a great number of industry experts who discussed the latest in marine energy with a focus on conditions for commercial success which was also the topic of this year’s event.

The Marine Energy Event started with an introductory address, delivered by the chairman of the event, and MET-CERTIFIED Project Manager, Peter Scheijgrond, with an overview of research and development, testing, certification, insurance, and financing, as well as the trends and export markets for the marine energy sector – all of which was due for discussion during the event.


R&D and testing update

Marine Energy Event, organized in cooperation with Dutch Energy from Water (EWA) and Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC), continued with an update on research and development, and ongoing open sea testing activities that were presented by Antonio Jarquin Laguna, Researcher Offshore Renewable Energy at Delft University of Technology, and Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

Jarquin Laguna gave the audience an overview of the research and testing activities taking place at TU Delft related to marine renewable energy. He also mentioned some ocean energy courses available to students at the University.

“It would be good for ocean energy industry to really identify where the scientific challenges in the problems that they are facing lie. Whether it is a specific aspect of the technology, or the need for development of some innovative solutions – we are very interested to collaborate with the industry,” said Jarquin Laguna.

Oliver Wragg talked about open sea testing of marine energy devices at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), access to public funding, as well as FORESEA funding support program for ocean energy developers.

When it comes to testing challenges, and where the sector needs to increase the reliability, Wragg said that doing that for the power take-off systems, specifically in tidal turbines, is essential.

Wragg emphasized other critical points for the sector that could lead to cost reduction which are, in his opinion, the installation and retrieval methodology for marine energy devices, and the development of subsea connectors for wave and tidal developments as those available are mostly from the oil & gas sectors which are not easy to operate in wave and tidal environments.

Wragg said: “Testing at EMEC is not the end-goal – it is a stepping-stone to commercialization. Proving performance is important because it builds confidence and it also helps to attract investments to move forward.”

In terms of FORESEA and its broader impacts in the future, Wragg spoke about targeted support plan to attract more technology companies that may apply for the project, and ongoing infrastructure review to look at the different test facilities to see where additional investments are required to facilitate testing activities under the project.

Wragg also mentioned the creation of a roadmap for North West Europe that would identify where the region could assist the sector more, as well as an investment plan that would aid various governments in continuing their investments in the sector.

 

Ocean energy certification and risk reduction

Certification and risk reduction, and what this precisely means for the marine energy sector, was clarified in a session that hosted Olivier Benyessaad, Offshore Business Development Manager at Bureau Veritas, who talked about standardization and certification, reflecting on the work being done under IEC TC 114 and MET-Certified initiatives.

Benyessaad said: “Feedback from the ocean energy industry is very important for developing standards. The idea is to compare the standards that have been developed against testing and verification – so we need to be sure that we didn’t waste time to produce ‘paper for paper’ but that it is also relevant to the industry – and that it assists it to develop and commercialize products.”

Benyessaad added that certification is done mainly on voluntary basis, stressing however that it helps in building up investor confidence, and increases chances to access commercial funding.

“Standardized way of producing devices builds confidence from investors and insurance companies, and it also applies for the whole supply chain,” said Benyessaad.

Alain Padet, AXA Corporate Services spoke about the conditions for insurance of marine energy projects, and the elements for project insurance assessments which include the very important factor of experience in project leadership and site management, as well as the location of the project and the significance of proven and certified equipment.

“The cost of project insurance typically amounts to between 1.5 to 2% of total project cost,” said Padet.

 

Financing marine energy projects

The day proceeded with the views on the most challenging aspects for the development of the marine energy sector – the financing – delivered by tidal and wave energy developers with active projects worldwide.

Joost Holleman from Twin Valleys gave a brief overview of what is available for ocean energy developers in terms of European funding options currently, and in near future.

Holleman provided an example of Tidal Technology Center Grevelingendam (TTC-GD), the test center located in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, and how it was funded, reflecting on the €4.1 million secured from the Dutch government last year as well as other EU and regional grants.

In order to secure funding for their projects, Holleman advised the following to the emerging developers: “The first step is to go to your regional authorities for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and ask for 35% grant for innovation. The other 65% could partially be financed by the company itself, but there are also loans and guarantees regionally available to fund your innovation along the way.”

Wave energy project financing was discussed in greater detail by Marcella Askew from the Swedish-based wave energy developer Seabased, which is closing in on its commercial deals by the end of the year, according to Askew.

Askew said: “My advice to people starting especially in the R&D focus of this, is the more you math-out along the way to help answer the questions regarding project size, output, cost, longevity and operation and maintenance in the R&D stage, the easier and the shorter your final stages will be.”

Eric van den Eijnden from Tidal Bridge, a joint venture of Strukton International and Dutch Expansion Capital (DEC), talked about the floating tidal energy bridge in Indonesia, and the ways it was funded – highlighting the importance of showcase and demonstration projects.

He also pointed out that combining tidal energy generation with other infrastructure developments like bridges could decrease the costs associated with the project.

Van den Eijnden announced the turbine suppliers for the 23MW project in Indonesia will be Tocardo Tidal Power, Schottel Hydro and Fish Flow Innovations.

“We find it more important to get this project done – to have a kind of a reference project which is also large and presents a good basis for more development – than just making a profit,” said van den Eijnden.

Tidal lagoons financing and project development was discussed by Ton Fijen, from Tidal Lagoon Power.

Fijen talked about the future energy needs of UK and the necessity for additional power supply sources, and how building tidal lagoons could help provide the country with clean power.

He spoke about Tidal Lagoon Power’s so-called pathfinder Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, and the delays regarding the project’s subsidy agreement with the UK government.

Fijen said: “We wouldn’t mind if the UK government at least would come forward and start the discussion with us. Finalizing the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon agreement would open a way to a whole host of projects – not just in the UK, but internationally.”

 

Marine energy is not a niche market

The day was wrapped-up with an interactive closing panel on the opportunities for the future in marine energy, moderated by Britta Schaffmeister, Director at DMEC. The closing panel featured seven speakers of the event, who agreed that the technology will be developed over time to be part of the mix of technologies that will satisfy the growing global energy needs.

Also, one of points made at the panel was that marine energy sector is not a niche market – it is a huge market that will be confirmed by doing projects, especially large ones as it is expected that 10% of all electricity will be produced by marine energy.

Some of the key messages delivered by the speakers can be read here.

The event was wrapped up with the closing statement by Piet Ackermans, Chairman of the Dutch Energy from Water Association (EWA), who summarized everything said during the day, with the message that the sector is showing great progress year on year basis.


Commenting on the event, one of the attendees, Tony Lewis, Principal Investigator in Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) and Professor Emeritus at the University College Cork (UCC), said: “It’s the first time I’ve been here and it’s good to see what’s going on in the Netherlands. There are certainly some interesting projects underway, including the R&D ones at Delft University exploring the future possibilities going forward.”

Peter Scheijgrond said: “I’m very impressed with progress that we’ve been making over the last five years. At this event, we’ve been growing from the small set up from one or two hours of technical sessions to real international event with international speakers and global-scale projects.”

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