In recent decades, it has become quite clear that the dynamics of the environmental matrix have been subjected to notable changes. Although there are opinions that this might be mainly due to a cyclic evolution of the climate, there is increasing evidence that human activities significantly influenced recent climate dynamics.
Taking into account this general background, countries from the European Union designed coherent strategies to significantly reduce emissions and reach a meaningful outcome by 2050. The European Green Deal was publicly released in December 2019. This is a programmatic document with the target of an important reduction in emissions and the provision of a clear and stable legal framework in relationship with the climate . It is estimated in the European Union that more than 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the energy sector. From this perspective, one important direction considered for the future consists of increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy system. In this context, Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) is projected to play an important role on the green road towards a low carbon future. This is because many European countries have important marine energy resources that can be harvested in an efficient way. Thus, the European Union projects a 25 times increase for offshore wind extraction for the year 2050 compared with 2021 (from 12 GW, which is the current operating capacity, to 300 GW). With regard to other MRE sources (particularly waves, tides, osmo-energy and floating solar panels) the target is even more ambitious, with a planned operating capacity of 40 GW by 2050. This means a more than 3000 times increase compared to the modest existing capacity of 13 MW.
From this perspective, Energies pays special attention to the development of the MRE sector, including the evaluation of marine energy resources and of the expected dynamics of the environmental matrix in the context of climate change and also some of the technological challenges that have to be faced in the harsh marine environment. Some recent works targeting these very important issues are highlighted next in this Editorial.