Annual Report 2017
Country Reports


Davide Magagna, Matthijs Soede DG JRC & DG RTD


The European Commission has expressed its support to ocean energy in several communications, namely the Energy Union Strategy, the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), and the Blue Growth Strategy. The aim of different policies and tools is to drive the development of ocean energy to exploit its potential to create growth and jobs in the EU.

The Energy Union Package (COM/2015/80) is the main EU energy policy, identifying five overarching dimensions for the transformation of the European energy system to make it more secure, affordable and sustainable. The development of ocean energy is framed within the Research, Innovation and Competitiveness priority; and implemented through the SET-Plan. The SET-Plan has been recognised as one of the major policy mechanisms to deliver this goal focusing on cost reduction and improving the performance of low carbon energy technologies through impactful synergetic innovation actions.

The SET-Plan builds on the Energy Union strategy and highlights the areas where participating countries align their efforts and strengthen their cooperation to support stakeholders to bring new, efficient and cost-competitive low-carbon technologies to the market faster and in a cost-competitive way. The SET-Plan identifies ten actions for research and innovation, based on an assessment of the energy system’s needs and on their importance for the energy system transformation and their potential to create growth and jobs in the EU. Ocean energy activities fall under two main actions:

  • Action 1: “to sustain technological leadership by developing highly performant renewable technologies and their integration in the EU’s energy system”; and
  • Action 2: “to reduce the cost of key technologies”

In 2016, the European Commission together with stakeholders agreed to targets for the development which were made public in the “SET Plan – Declaration of Intent on Strategic Targets in the context of an Initiative for Global Leadership in Ocean Energy”.

Following the endorsement of the Declaration of Intent of Ocean Energy, in 2017 a Temporary Working Group (TWG) for Ocean Energy was setup. The mission of the TWG on ocean energy is to draft an implementation plan that will contain concrete R&I activities, and will propose relevant funding opportunities for their realisation, which are considered essential for achieving the agreed targets. The TWG is composed by 10 Member-States and relevant industrial partners, chaired by national representatives from Ireland and co-chaired by the European Technology & Innovation Platform on Ocean Energy (ETIP Ocean).

The TWG has identified 11 activities whose realisation will help reduce the cost of ocean energy technologies and meet the targets agreed in the declaration of intent. The activities address technological, financial and environmental barriers that are hindering the development and deployment of ocean energy technologies and as a consequence their cost-reduction. The Implementation plan is expected to be endorsed in 2018.

Ocean energy is also supported by the Blue Growth Strategy, the European Commission long-term strategy for the sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sector. The marine and maritime sector provides Europe with 5 million jobs and an economic impact of almost €500 billion a year. In recent years, offshore wind energy installations have changed the scenario of the maritime sector with a new industrial avenue which is already increasing employment in coastal areas.

A stable ocean energy sector is expected to contribute significantly to the growth of EU maritime regions, with estimates suggesting that the ocean energy sector could generate over 400,000 jobs by 2050 if the industrial target to deploy 100 GW of installed capacity is met.

The European Commission is currently undertaking a study to address the long-term failures of the ocean energy market with the aim to identify mechanisms to support market formation and mobilise investment into the sector. The European Commission has also launched a tender addressing the monitoring of wave and tidal energy devices in order to remove uncertainties over their potential environmental impacts. The tender is expected to start in early 2018.

The NER300 programme remains the main market incentive scheme supporting first-of-a-kind commercial scale renewable energy projects. Five ocean energy projects were awarded support through NER300 in 2013 and 2014. No new projects were announced in 2017.

The Horizon 2020 is the current framework programme put in place by the European Commission to support innovative R&D actions. Since its inception in 2014, the H2020 programme has provided more than €124 million for ocean energy R&D to 24 different projects, including feasibility studies under the Small Medium Enterprises instrument.

The European Commission currently funds 14 Projects on ocean energy, five of which were awarded in 2017 and focusing predominantly on tidal energy demonstration. Four more projects are expected to receive funds as a result of the 2017 H2020 calls. The projects are distributed in three categories: six demonstration projects (TRL>7), five research and innovation projects (TRL<7) and three coordination and support projects (addressing policy and non-technological aspects).

The European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the European Commission has launched the InnovFin Energy Demo Projects (EDP), which provides support in the form of loans for first-of-a-kind projects. InnovFin aims to facilitate and accelerate access to finance for innovative businesses and projects in unproven markets in Europe. The scheme helps reducing the financial risk of demonstration projects, offering equity and debts tailored to the need of the project. In 2017, Atlantis Resources Limited started the due-diligence process to obtain support through the InnovFIn EDP scheme.

Further support to R&D activities is provided through the OceanERA-NET Cofund, which coordinates the support for research and development in ocean energy to facilitate collaborative solution to key challenges facing the sector. Eight countries and regions participate in the OceanERA-NET cofund project, which aims at encouraging transnational collaboration. The first list of collaborative projects is to be announced in January 2018.

At regional level the European Commission has also launched the S3P Interregional Partnership on Marine Renewable Energies. The partnership aims to pool regional resources and expertise in order to create new business opportunities and increased growth for the ocean energy. The focus of the S3P is to solve key industrial challenges, such as corrosion and manufacturing of marine energy converters.

In 2017, the European Commission has also increased its support to ocean energy through the provision of funds via H2020 for the sharing of testing facilities such as the MaRINET2, Marinerg-I, Met-Certified and the Foresea projects (the latter ones supported through the Interreg programme).