EU Regions Call for Greater Ocean Energy Support

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The EU Committee of Regions (CoR) has called for greater public and private support for ocean energy to boost economic growth and secure jobs in the EU’s regions.

CoR argues that greater commitment would boost energy security and enable the European Union to retain its competitive advantage in a pioneering sector. The opinion, which was drafted by Rhodri Glyn Thomas, a member of the Welsh Assembly (UK / European Alliance), secured the support of all five political groups in the CoR.

“Ocean energy is at the cutting edge of renewables and offers a unique opportunity to promote local jobs and sustainable economic growth,” Mr Thomas said. “But, to bridge the gap towards commercialisation, greater cooperation between public and private sector and research centres is of paramount importance.”

The opinion states that, in the long term, ocean energy could be a game-changer in the decarbonisation of the economy, pointing, for example, to a study that suggests that ocean energy could meet 10% of Europe’s electricity demand by 2050. To achieve this potential, the opinion says, the EU, its institutions, member states, local and regional authorities, industry, NGOs, as well as financing institutions and research institutes should work together to bring ocean-energy technologies to maturity.

While the UK has been particularly associated in the public eye with the development of ocean energy, the CoR opinion underlines that interest in the sector is widespread. It also highlights the ocean-energy sector’s potential to drive sustainable development and job creation across the EU in inland as well as coastal areas, contributing to the revival of small and medium-sized ports and to the development of new supply chains.

The European Commission’s recently published Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan acknowledges the key role of ocean energy in Europe’s future energy mix and suggests enhancing regional cooperation in the Atlantic region, echoing one of the CoR’s recommendations.

“Creating a macro-Atlantic region would build on existing pioneering work in this sector and it would be an opportunity to achieve cost reductions while pooling resources, research, knowledge and developing a skills base,” Mr Thomas said.

At a meeting in Dublin on 20 October, ministers from the EU’s member states, the European Commission and key stakeholders are due to discuss a roadmap from the Ocean Energy Forum, which, the CoR hopes, could eventually lead to the launch of a formal European Industrial Initiative for the sector.

Ireland and Portugal have national ocean-energy strategies, while eight other EU member states include ocean energy in national renewable-energy action plans. In many countries, the political lead is being taken by regions. The opinion mentions in particular the interest of local authorities in France (Brittany, Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire, Basse Normandie), Spain (Basque Country, Cantabria, Galicia), Belgium (Flanders) and Sweden (Västra Götaland).

Source: EU Committee of Regions

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