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New European Programme to Fund Open Sea Testing for Ocean Energy

February 24, 2016


The 11 million euro FORESEA project brings together Europe’s leading ocean energy test facilities to help demonstrate tidal, wave and offshore wind energy technologies in real-sea conditions.

The project is funded by the Interreg NEW (North West Europe) programme, part of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). It is being led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and will provide funding support to ocean energy technology developers to access Europe’s world-leading ocean energy test facilities. These include EMEC in the UK Orkney Islands, SmartBay in Galway, Ireland, SEM-REV of Nantes, France and the Tidal Testing Centre at Den Oever in The Netherlands. These test centres will in turn 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.

“This programme shows the added value of European cooperation” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs & Fisheries. “If we are to help ocean energy on a path towards commercialisation, 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 programmes such as this one.”
Welcoming the announcement, Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Mr Paul Wheelhouse, added that Scotland is recognised as a world leader in wave and tidal energy, with some of the leading technologies being developed and tested in the country. The announcement will allow technology developers to move towards commercial readiness at the world’s leading ocean test facilities.

According to Oliver Wragg, EMEC Commercial Director, Europe is currently leading the world in ocean energy development and the FORESEA programme will help to cement this lead by stimulating a critical mass of technology development activity, bridging the gap between ocean renewables R&D and the marketplace, while 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. 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.

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