Political Framework for Ocean Energy

Governments have a number of policy options for the promotion and acceleration and uptake of ocean energy. Although investment in ocean energy technology development is undertaken by a spectrum of organizations—from small-medium enterprises with a conceptual idea to major international utilities or energy companies with seed investments—it is government support that is driving the development of ocean energy.

Recent major changes in international policy are favourable for ocean energy. The current proposals to replace the Kyoto Protocol with another binding treaty to include greater involvement of developing nations is driving national governments to consider renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. The development of emissions trading regimes, emissions reduction targets and potential implementation of carbon taxes are 'levelling the playing field' between conventional fossil fuel use and new renewables.

These global initiatives are supportive but marine energy will only flourish in countries, where dedicated marine energy policy instruments are used to promote its uptake. Such dedicated instruments have been implemented in NW European countries to promote solar PV installations (in Germany and Spain) and wind energy.

The same NW European countries (Scotland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) are leading the way with respect to marine energy.

The key policy instruments that are influential in promoting marine energy are:

1. Legislated or aspirational targets for installed capacity of generation contribution from ocean energy

2. Government funding (from R & D to production incentives)

3. Infrastructure developments

4. Other incentives (Table 26.1)

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