Marine energy in the spotlight at the EU Sustainable Energy Week.

A report from the two delegates of the Maestrale team that attended the EU Sustainable Energy Week, “Lead the clean energy transition” in Bruxelles (4-8 June 2018).

The topics treated in the series of conferences organized for the EU Sustainable Energy Week confirmed the importance and timeliness of our Maestrale project.
Here below a glance on main topics and findings: 

Islands and marine environment
Some of the conferences have been specifically focussed on islands and the marine environment. During the conference “clean energy transition on EU islands and beyond”, Dominique Ristori, Director General for Energy of the European Commission, said: “We have to invest in renewable energy, including marine energy. We have to transform European Islands in a sort of pioneer of energy transition into the direction of energy autonomy, profitable for local population and the economy. We have to pursue clean and also fair energy transition and it is extremely important to take action soon ”.

Blue Energy

A specific conference, “Watts in Water”, has been focussed on most recent advances in Blue Energy.
The moderator, Remi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, has highlighted that four years ago the conference dealt with potential development of promising technologies, while nowadays there are installed devices that produces electricity from tidal and waves. Currently there is 1 GWh installed in water and we expect from 1.3 to 3.9 GW in 2030.
As demonstration, Steven Nauwelaerts, on behalf of Laminaria (www.laminaria.be), presented an innovative waves-to-energy collector installed in water for the Lamwec Project in Orkney (http://www.laminaria.be/lamwec.html), while Gavin Mcpherson, on behalf of Nova Innovation, presented a tidal array installed in Shetland (from 3x100kW devices to 6x100kW devices). In particular the Enfait project (https://www.enfait.eu/) investigates the all production chain from the installation to the decommissioning; Cameron Smith, Director of public affairs & Business Development of Atlantis resources, presented the Meygen project by Atlantis Tidal stream (https://www.atlantisresourcesltd.com/projects/meygen/).
Finally, Xavier Guillou, Director General for Maritime Affair (MARE) for the European Commission, highlighted that the priority is, besides the scale-up, to understand and overcome legal barriers (how to obtain licence to operate and the agreement national authority?) and guarantee social and environmental compatibility.
In conclusion, challengesto developers concern the demonstration of technologies and maximisation of value of early arrays through a learning by doing process. Challenges to policy makers refer to the support to demonstration (e.g. specific demonstration sites) and the promotion of diversity to mitigate risks and encourage innovation. The collaboration among stakeholders is essential to address barriers such as costs, grid, finance and to down the cost of energy.

 Renewables

Furthermore, the conference on “Innovative technologies and regulatory schemes accelerating islands’ decarbonisation” allowed for understanding priorities and role of local authorities though a series of demonstrations and work in progress by the governments of Canary Islands (Pedro Ortega Rodriguez, Gonzalo Piernavieja Izquierdo) and Balearic islands (Join Groizard Payeras). Interesting suggestions came from Giuseppe Sciacca on behalf of CPMR, the Network of 150 marine regions and Teresa Luis Ruiz for Eurelectric, a group involved in electric industry for islands. In particular, she highlighted the importance of combining renewables with storage and their adaptation to local conditions.
Moreover, Brendan Devil, EC DG Energy, said: “what we need is not innovation in technology but in social adaptation to renewables”.
Also Thomas Brose, executive director of Climate Alliance, the biggest EU network for cities, highlighted that “energy is related to power, policy and also to social”. Energy operators are therefore expected in the next future to optimally utilise islands’ resources and infrastructures and mainstream existing instruments and best practices.

Partnerships

The Conference “Smart specialisation and interregional cooperation in energy: from planning to action” presented the state of the art of the five partnership of European regions dealing with Energy (S3 Energy Partnerships): bioenergy, marine renewable energy, smart grids, solar energy, sustainable buildings. Alessandro Rainoldi, head of Unit B3 – Territorial Development - of the European Commission, remarked that energy is a topic with high interest amongst the Member States and the over 70 regions registered in the S3 Energy Platform.
The Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3PEnergy) was launched in May 2015 as a joint initiative of DG REGIO, DG ENER and JRC, with the main objective of supporting the effective uptake of the Cohesion Policy funds for energy as well as to help regions and Member States in the implementation of their smart specialisation strategies (S3). The S3PEnergy Partnerships has allowed participant regions to develop concrete initiatives that bring innovation closer into the market.  Rainoldi pointed out that “Now there is the willingness to upscale S3 partnerships to a higher territorial level, also looking beyond EU borders, namely to the Western Balkans area.”
The outcomes of the activities carried out by the S3 partnership on Marine Renewable Energy has been illustrated by Jose Hormaeche, General Manager of the Basque Energy Cluster (Asociación Cluster de Energía del País Vasco, CEPV). CEPV, which was set up in 1996 following the policy of the Basque government to support clusters, integrates more than 160 companies in the energy sector supply chain in the Basque Country (energy operators, component and equipment manufacturers and service companies).

Ocean energy

Ocean energy is recognized as a key low-carbon technology for Europe; it has the potential to deliver significant economic development and create high-value jobs, especially in those European regions with traditional Blue Growth industries.
It is estimated that 100GW of ocean energy capacity could be deployed in Europe by 2050, which means the 10% of the total estimated EU energy demand; this will avoid the equivalent of 276 mton of CO2 emissions per year.
The S3 partnership on Marine Renewable Energy gathers 16 regions and Member States and involves a number of industries and SMEs, many of them with a strong track record of cooperation, such as in the Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Related Applications (ADMA Energy Pilot). 

Smart grid partnership

Emmeline Allioux, head of the EU representative office of the Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur Region in Brussels, introduced the Smart Grids Partnership. The growing installation of renewable energy sources is challenging the transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, therefore the deployment of smart grid solutions can help make energy distribution more flexible and cope with the intermitted energy supply which is typical of RES.
It has been announced by Fernando Merida Martin of the Joint Research Centre of Seville that an important event will take place in Florence on June 27th, titled “Interregional Cooperation for Energy Transition”. The event will bring together Interreg Europe projects dealing with regional policies in the field of energy transition in Europe.

New regulations

At the Conference “The Mediterranean at the forefront of energy transition”, Hans Van Steen, Head of Unit at the European Commission – DG Energy,  presented the package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” i.e. the core of the new regulatory framework of the EU energy policy. The Clean Energy package was presented by the Commission on Nov. 30, 2017.  It is a set of directives that are going to shape the future of energy policies in Europe: the directive on energy efficient buildings has been recently updated, while the final version of the Renewable Energy directive will be issued soon. The Renewable Energy Directive requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. On 30 November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption is met in the EU by 2030.
The Mediterranean area is equipped with relevant assets to be at the forefront of the energy transition: some of the best solar resources in the world, an excellent wind potential, low rainfall and vast areas available in the southern shore, technology know-how and industrial capabilities to manufacture components locally. The creation of an integrated Mediterranean energy market is an objective that the European Union is consistently promoting within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. As underlined by Giulia Marchesini, from the Center of Mediterranean Integration of the World Bank Group, by working together the EU and the South Mediterranean Partners are more likely to achieve rapidly and cost-effectively their goals of being global leaders in the energy transition.