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Ocean Power

Not on track
Jamie Davies Bcpavl49gsu Unsplash

In this report

Electricity generation from marine technologies increased an estimated 400 GWh (+33%) from 2019 to 2020, which is significantly above the levels of the previous three years, mainly owing to capacity additions of ~200 MW from Denmark.

Nevertheless, this technology needs to be deployed much more rapidly to get on track with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, which models 27 TWh of electricity generation in 2030. Ocean power generation grows an average 33% between 2020 and 2030 in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, which corresponds to ~1 GW of average annual capacity additions. Policies promoting R&D are needed to achieve further cost reductions and large-scale development.

Ocean power generation in the Net Zero Scenario, 2000-2030

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Tracking progress

Electricity generation from marine technologies increased an estimated 33% in 2020, mainly owing to Denmark’s capacity increase of 200 MW. However, marine power’s status remains “not on track” because it is far from being aligned with the Net Zero Scenario’s sustained annual growth of 33% through 2030, which is not expected to be achieved in the years ahead. Such generation growth would require an average 1 GW of capacity additions annually until 2030.

While advanced marine projects of 10 kW to 1 MW for power generation have been deployed (mostly in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China and, recently, Denmark), these demonstration and small commercial projects remain expensive because the economies of scale necessary for significant cost reductions have not yet been realised.

Marine technologies hold great potential, but additional policy support for RD&D is needed to enable the cost reductions that come with the commissioning of larger commercial plants. 

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