Ocean energy is a dynamic and fast-growing sector of the blue economy. There are a number of sectors of the blue economy that depend on access to consistent and reliable energy, including offshore aquaculture, ocean observation, marine robotics and offshore data centers. These offshore applications will require new energy approaches. Ocean energy can provide solutions to support a variety of ocean based activities. Also, remote coastal and island communities are exploring options to reduce dependence on single sources of fuel and water, while seeking their energy independence and sustainability. Combining several activities in the same marine space can be also a viable option to meet economic, social, and environmental goals.
The IEA-OES International Vision for Ocean Energy recognises that there are several ways in which specific synergies exist within varying industries, leading to a range of transfers from other industries into the ocean energy sector. Furthermore, most ocean energy technologies are being developed to generate electricity for the grid, while at the same time considering direct power for other blue growth activities like aquaculture or the production of fresh water from seawater by desalination.
In this brochure six examples are presented of these synergies. Stakeholder interviews conducted by IEA-OES show that small islands present a compelling argument for the exploitation of their ocean energy resource potential, and the importance of engaging local communities and local authorities in a dialogue that highlights these projects as a platform for job creation and social improvement. Energy problems faced by many islands and coastal regions can be solved by harnessing the available renewable energy resources of the sun, wind and ocean to supply electricity and freshwater. The idea of multi-use of the sea can be an efficient allocation of compatible activities in the same ocean space providing socioeconomic and environmental benefits. Ocean energy and offshore aquaculture can achieve effective complementary advantages: the Penghu semi-submersible aquaculture platform in China is showing a new form of offshore aquaculture supported by green energy. Offshore applications, such as data science platforms, can also benefit from access to reliable power. The robustness and reliability of these projects have to be proven with sea trials before commercialization of the technologies is possible and governmental support will be needed, but the examples show the value of ocean energy to other blue growth sectors.