The €11 million FORESEA project brings together Europe’s leading ocean energy test facilities to help demonstration of tidal, wave and offshore wind energy technologies in real-sea conditions.
Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the FORESEA (Funding Ocean Renewable Energy through Strategic European Action) project will provide funding from the Interreg NWE (North-West Europe) program, part of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) to support ocean energy technology developers to access Europe’s world-leading ocean energy test facilities, including EMEC (Orkney Islands, UK), SmartBay (Galway, Ireland), SEM-REV (Nantes, France) and Tidal Testing Centre (Den Oever, Netherlands).
The test centers will be supported by European industry group Ocean Energy Europe, based in Brussels.
The first call for applicants to apply for support packages is scheduled to be announced later this month.
Investors in the ocean energy sector want to see that technology has been proven to work in the sea and at scale before committing. However, the cost of pre-commercial demonstration of full scale ocean energy technology is high. This results in the so-called “valley-of-death” phenomenon and prevents products reaching the market.
To address this issue, FORESEA will offer a series of funding and business development support packages to TRL 5+ ocean energy technology developers seeking to test and demonstrate in real-sea and grid-connected conditions, and leverage the further investment needed to take their product to market.
Commenting on the project launch, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs & Fisheries said, “This program shows the added value of European cooperation. If we are to help ocean energy on a path towards commercialization, countries as well as companies will have to work together to overcome joint challenges. The European Commission is encouraging this kind of cooperation, for example through the Ocean Energy Forum as well as programs such as this one.”
Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said, “Scotland is recognized as a world leader in wave and tidal energy with some of the leading technologies being developed and tested here.
“Today’s announcement will allow technology developers to move towards commercial readiness at the world’s leading ocean test facilities; the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney as well as in Ireland, France and the Netherlands,” Wheelhouse continued.
“The €11 million FORESEA project is a tremendous achievement by EMEC and complements the innovative funding approaches for marine energy that the Scottish Government is already providing through Wave Energy Scotland, the Renewable Energy Investment Fund and our enterprise agencies. The Scottish Government is committed to developing a marine energy sector in Scotland and today’s announcement is a tremendous boost to the sector,” Wheelhouse said.
Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director, at EMEC, said, “Europe is currently leading the world in ocean energy development. The FORESEA program will help cement this lead by stimulating a critical mass of technology development activity, bridging the gap between ocean renewables R&D and the marketplace, whilst neatly building on existing EU initiatives currently supporting wave and tidal energy technology development across Europe.?
“The cost of pre-commercial testing and demonstration for ocean energy is high and investors are generally reluctant to invest until the technology has been proven in the sea at scale,” Wragg added. “FORESEA will provide financial assistance to Europe’s most promising ocean energy innovators and help them ‘get metal wet’, get their technologies tested in real-sea conditions and get private investment flowing into the sector.”
Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, said that supporting the FORESEA program help plot a route to market for a range of technologies in the ocean energy sector. “The size of the prize for commercializing ocean energy is huge. In Europe alone, the industry plans to deploy 100GW of generation capacity by 2050, meeting 10 percent of Europe’s electricity demand. Not only does this mean generating clean and secure renewable energy, it also means creating a new industrial sector based firmly in Europe,” Gruet said.
“This year we are seeing pre-commercial ocean energy farms hit the water in Europe, ahead of anywhere else in the world,” Gruet continued. “The industry and its partners need to continue to build on this momentum by bringing new technologies to market through research, demonstration and innovation activities. FORESEA provides an important piece of the puzzle for doing just that, and we will look forward to working with our colleagues at Europe’s leading open sea test centers to make this program a success.”