In its 'Communication Blue Energy: Action Plan to deliver on the potential of ocean energy in European seas and oceans by 2020 and beyond', the European Commission recognised ocean energy as a potentially important source of clean energy, which presents the opportunity to generate economic growth and employment, increase energy security, and boost competitiveness and technological innovation. Within this the wave and tidal stream sectors have been identified as a technology with the potential to offer a significant contribution to the European energy system in the medium to long term.
Organisations worldwide are working with developers and marine experts in the ocean energy sector in order to expand the research agenda to cover a range of industry-related environmental and operational issues. As test and demonstration sites are emerging for this new technology, the industry is clustering around these sites drawing in expertise from device developers, supply chain companies, regulators and research organisations. It is important that the research agenda across these locations can be developed coherently, complementing the work already underway, but also ensuring knowledge transfer across different regions and supporting the creation of a global market.
International Wave and Tidal Energy Research Sites (WaTERS) is designed to connect the expertise from a number of knowledge hubs and wider industrial organisations to support the development of multidisciplinary knowledge in the ocean energy sector. This will lead to a demonstration of this technology as an economically feasible and environmentally sound energy resource.
Within this network national efforts will be coordinated through Working Groups focusing on:
- The creation of best practice research at open-water ocean energy test and demonstration locations in the fields of environmental data collection, technology testing, marine operations, stakeholder engagement and marine safety to underpin the development of the ocean energy sector
- The development of robust procedures across the network to ensure a consistent technology development pathway is put in place along with further development of standards and guidelines for the ocean energy sector
- Integration of research and development activities across the Action partners to enhance dissemination, create new opportunities for early stage researcher development and maximise the growth opportunities for the participants
This global network will be based in Europe and the partners will endeavour to make full use of the research potential at the pre-commercial device testing stages as this technology evolves from prototype design through to commercial viability.