Nations across the world recognise the potential benefits of ocean renewable energy, pursuing the development of new technologies and projects to take advantage of their natural resources. Wave and tidal stream projects, and the associated technology, have generated interest from governments, investors and developers, all keen to help build the sector. The successful transition from nascent technology to commercial proposition relies on the most efficient use of available resources, and world class R&D.
This document is an output of IEA-OES Task 12, an activity funded by the members of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Ocean Energy Systems (OES) Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP). The scope of this document includes technology associated with utility-scale electricity generation from ocean waves and tidal streams. Future Task 12 activity will expand to incorporate other forms of ocean energy.
Electricity is likely to be the main output ocean energy technologies; however, it is recognised that alternative markets are emerging where other functionality may be desirable. Most of the guidance presented in this report are still valid for such alternative applications, but may require case by case adaption, e.g. for situations where electricity is not the primary output.
The objectives of Task 12 are:
- Build international consensus on ocean energy technology evaluation
- Guide appropriate and robust activities throughout the technology development process
- Share knowledge and promote collaboration
- Support decision making associated with technology evaluation and funding allocation
This document intends to support international efforts by presenting a framework for technology evaluation and guidance of engineering activity, ensuring that decision-makers have consistent information available to them.
The framework breaks the development process into six stages, from concept creation to commercialisation:
The activities and evaluations presented in the stages reflect the increasing knowledge, confidence and funding required as a technology matures. The framework builds the foundations of a clear, unambiguous evaluation methodology. It is noted that the path of a technology through the stages may not be linear, with iterations and resulting stage repeats often being necessary to deliver cost-efficiency and technical success.
International acceptance of a common approach to technology development and evaluation brings the following benefits:
- Clarity in the expectations from different stakeholders during each stage of development, bringing clearer communication
- Consistency in the use of terminology, and the process to evaluate technology, ensuring a level playing field
- Stakeholders working together to build confidence and transparency in the sector
- Efficient decision-making processes promoting direction of funding to the technologies with highest chances of commercial success
- Technology development processes consistent across the world, leading to more international collaboration more globally transferrable technology
Task 12 has taken an iterative approach, engaging numerous stakeholders from across the ocean energy sector and building upon previous work. Beyond the release of this document, Task 12 will continue engagement and collaboration with standards institutions, progressing towards a complete and internationally agreed process for maturation and evaluation of ocean energy technology.