Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the European Commission

  The European Commission services limit their contribution to three questions. The other questions being peculiar to United Kingdom we cannot answer on behalf of the European Commission.

  The White paper for a Community Strategy and Action plan "Energy for the future: Renewables Sources of Energy" indicates in the paragraph related to Other Renewable Technologies that: "There are a number of other renewable energy technologies, such as solar thermal power, tidal power, ocean currents, wave power, hot dry rock, ocean thermal energy conversion, for which the current market in the EU is non-existent. Projections are difficult to make, but some of these technologies will undoubtedly offer significant potential in the future. It is reasonable to expect that at least one of the renewable sources will have started to be exploited commercially over the coming decade or so, which justifies assuming a marginal contribution of 1gW by 2010."

  That what concern the three specific questions:

Technology viability

  The wave technology could be shoreline, near shore and offshore devices. The most advanced technology is "on-shore" principally the one exploiting the OWC (oscillating water column) system. In Europe, two pilot plants (LIMPET, PICO) using this principle have been built and are now being tested. It seems reasonable to expect positive results regarding the viability of this specific technology in a short term.

  The tidal technology could be near shore and offshore devices. It is until now limited to the exploitation of marine currents. Only one pilot has been built near shore (SEAFLOW) but not yet installed near shore.

Research and development

  Under the 4 Framework Programme, five research projects are currently underway and progressing well. Those projects include the three pilot plants mentioned before. Prototypes are under operation. From the 1st call of the 5 Framework Programme (ENERGIE) one Thematic Network has been contracted and is now acting. The outcome of the various actions, both in term of scientific and technical results in term of exploitation, will be crucial to decide the next steps for this energy source. The objective of the EU is to establish through present and future projects, a reliable baseline on some critical points, such as investment costs, production cost, operation performance, survivability, reliability environment impact and socio-economic data.

International comparison

  Some EU MS states are very active in the wave technology. These countries are at present Denmark, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The efforts are supported by public and by private funds. In addition of the EU programme "ENERGIE" some of them also have a national programme. Outside the EU, Norway, the USA and Japan are also actives but the EU countries seem to remain leaders of Wave technology in the industrial and in the research sectors.

February 2001

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