So just what does marine renewable energy have to prove?

In the last year many of our discussions at home and abroad have moved to a focus on demonstrations of the first arrays of devices as pioneer power plants. Many will recognise that the decision to develop a 64MW offshore interconnection capacity at FORCE was recognition of this need several years ago. Some will see that the Seagen demonstration by MCT/Siemens at Strangford Lough has in fact demonstrated for all customers and developers that marine generators will be functional and reliable – a company success, but a shift in the goal posts for all. The Jan 16 2013 announcement of UK Crown Estate commitment to invest in the first two 3MW and up projects noted “Several wave and tidal stream technologies are now proven and it is timely for the industry to move on to demonstration projects. First arrays are important because they are on the critical path to larger schemes.”

Marine Renewables Canada’s 2013 event will be in Ottawa in early November. We will address this shift away from a standard technology commercialization model toward a market-driven search for industrial solutions. The theme will be “From prototyping technology to prototyping an industry”.

This theme will in fact be fundamental to the work of the association over the coming years. At least in early projects, that core energy capture/generator device may be only 1/3 of the project costs. The shift from demonstration of prototype single devices to arrays means that solutions to the other 2/3 of project delivery should be developed in ways that are applicable to eventual larger industrial-scale deployments. It puts a premium on solving deployment, interconnection and operational issues, making monitoring of the environment and the equipment routine, and a better demonstration of a new industry operating in coastal environments. The early projects need what may be the potential long-term solutions. Those projects can be the incubator or demonstrator of these enabling innovations. Some of those innovations can go on to be applied worldwide as the new industry emerges.