Marine Renewable Energy Conversion systems comprise wave energy and tidal stream converters as well as offshore-wind turbines for electrical generation. These technologies are currently at different stages of development but are mostly at the pre-commercial stage and require research to be undertaken at a series of scales along the path to commercialization. However each of these technologies also needs specific research infrastructures in order to conduct this research. The aim of the MARINET initiative is to coordinate research and development at all scales (small models through to prototype scales, from laboratories through to open sea tests) and to allow access for researchers and developers to infrastructures which are not available universally in Europe, including test facilities for components such as power take-off systems, grid integration, moorings and environmental monitoring so as to ensure a focusing of activities in this area. The initiative offers researchers and developers access to 45 research facilities as well as to the associated network of expertise at all scales in Offshore Marine Renewable Energy technology research and development.
The aim of this paper is to present this MARINET initiative that was started in 2011, bringing together a network of 29 partners spread across twelve countries. Details of the MARINET Transnational Access (TA) program are presented, for which over 260 applications were received throughout the 5 official calls for proposals. In particular, statistics on applications and completed projects are presented which provide an overview of the global development progress of the different offshore renewable energy conversion technologies at a European level. It also provides a good overview of the current research activity, as well as evidence of the requirement for specialised research facilities, in this burgeoning field.