MARINE energy has a vast potential to contribute eco-friendly energy, but has only 10 years to prove itself as a viable technology or risk being eclipsed by other energy sources.
This will be the message today from UK-based scientist David Ingram, at the launch of EquiMar, Europe’s largest ocean energy research programme.
Mr Ingram will tell delegates to the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow that time could be running out for marine solutions to the world’s energy crisis and that scientists, developers and environmentalists must work together to accelerate progress.
Mr Ingram is the Edinburgh-based co-ordinator of the European Commission funded EquiMar project, which links research centres and device developers to examine the potential of a marine-energy industry.
The project has been given three years’ support by the EC to come up with templates to identify viable wave and tidal-energy devices and optimal locations, so marine power can be developed commercially to help to meet the ambitious supply targets set by governments for renewable energy.
Mr Ingram said: “Every day scientists, inventors and keen amateurs are applying for grants to test their prototypes. Some are promising, but many will never work outside the limited small-scale test environment or advance to sea trials. Governments need yardsticks by which they can measure the likely success of marine energy systems before backing them.
“Improved national and European funding will help resolve these problems and support pioneering developers to progress from testing devices to placing them in the open ocean environment.”
Marine biologists from the sea mammal research unit at St Andrews and the Oban-based Scottish Association of Marine Sciences are EquiMar members, advising how marine devices can minimise contact with sea mammals.
The two remaining backers of the world’s largest offshore wind-power scheme stepped in to safeguard the £2.5billion project yesterday.
E.ON and Danish utility Dong Energy have acquired Shell’s one-third stake in the London Array after the UK oil giant said in May it wanted to sell up. E.ON and Dong will now become 50:50 partners in the 341-turbine scheme, which when built could generate enough power to supply 25% of homes in greater London.
E.ON UK chief executive Paul Golby said: “We hope to be able to keep the project on track and we should be able to complete the first phase by the end of 2012, subject to securing a number of important contracts.”
Shell has committed to leave its staff in the project until the end of the year to enable a smooth transition.
The value of the stake sale has not been disclosed.
Energy Secretary John Hutton said it was great news that EON and Dong had agreed to take the project forward.