SEA-TITAN project related news

Future uses of marine renewables

In 2017, Spain suffered a very serious crisis that substantially reduced hydro production and, by extension, renewable electricity and its corresponding percentage in the total share of energy consumption.


However, it can not be said that this year was bad for the sector as a whole. The auctions that were promoted to promote renewable development made companies and professionals enjoy a certain optimism about the future of these technologies. The prospect of installing the more than 8,800 megawatts auctioned was enough to improve the investment environment of the companies.

Even if there had been no auctions, which improved the financing conditions of the projects in the face of the electricity market, planning would have been sufficient for the national renewable sector, so in need of good news, to start up. The companies that, in Spain, are engaged in marine renewables are prepared to take the road towards the goals set for 2030 and 2050 but, for this, we need the appropriate regulatory signals.

The energetic future that keeps the sea

The family of marine energies, among others, includes floating wind energy, energy from waves and energy from marine currents, which are the ones that have the greatest interest in our coasts. Although the development of marine energy is still incipient today, future prospects are very promising. Only in the European Union, it is expected that marine renewables generate 27,000 jobs in the next 15 years and the numbers improve by 2050. The European Union considers that, in 2050, these energies have in the Old Continent with 100 GW installed that they will provide employment to nearly 400,000 professionals. Drivers, sailors, stevedores, experts in security and logistics … There are many jobs that will be created in the next three decades thanks to the development of marine energy.

A train that Spain can not lose

If we aspire to completely decarbonise the economy, it is not understood that the enormous potential of the sea is not taken into account, without which it will be very difficult to achieve the objective. The progressive introduction of technologies in the electric mix requires vision and planning in the long term.

It is important to highlight that the average life time of an investment in the energy sector is greater than 30 years, so the investments made in 2020 will occupy their space until 2050, limiting the adoption of new technologies that can contribute to a system 100% renewable. And it is for this reason, why the progressive introduction from the current moment is so relevant if we want these technologies can contribute significantly in the coming decades.

The confidence that Europe has placed in marine renewables should serve as an indicator for our Government. Spain has made an important R & D & i effort so far that positions it in a privileged position to lead the marine renewable sector. The more than 7,000 kilometers of coastline we have, our privileged geographic location as the gateway to Europe, and our current scientific, technological or industrial development, make our country a possible leader of these technologies. More than 3,000 MW per year to be installed in Europe and in which Spain has much to say.

In order not to lose this technological and industrial train, it is essential that marine renewables are present in the future Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. In this plan, Spain has a magnificent opportunity to establish the foundations of a key sector of the blue economy. We must develop as a country an oceanic strategy with a specific regulatory and financial framework for the three great technological families: waves, tides and offshore wind.

Developing specific and differentiated strategies is fundamental for these technologies because, unlike other energy uses, marine energies are a broad set of technologies and each technological family has a very different degree of development. While in offshore wind there is already extensive experience in the production of fully operational parks, in waves, tides, currents or temperature gradient there are varying degrees of development. In the case of the use of waves, the potential estimated by the Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy (IDEA) could cover 20% of the electricity consumption of Spain.

The positive aspects of oceanic energies: great energy resource, good prediction, without significant environmental or visual impacts; they have to oppose those problems that professionals in the marine sector know well: hostile conditions, wave strength and marine corrosion. The use of these energies is not without difficulties and, what is more important for the calculation of jobs, they require a very intensive maintenance in personnel throughout the useful life of the facilities.

The jobs of the Blue Economy

According to recent studies of the International Agency for Renewable Energies (Irena) , the impact of marine renewables on maritime transport and logistics-port activity will be very important. The data that Irena shows for a type project of offshore wind are very representative: the second type of employment that will grow the most with these technologies will be the crew of ships, with 26% of the new jobs associated with this activity. 8% of the jobs are linked to the cleaning and maintenance of the facilities, which must also be developed at sea, and, on the order of 5%, will be crane operators.

As can be seen, the new jobs associated with these technologies will be closely linked to the maritime sector, as it could not be otherwise. But for Spain to benefit from these jobs and those associated with industrial development, both for internal consumption and for export, it is necessary that we establish the foundations for the future today. We are facing an opportunity that we can not miss.

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