The earth’s largest water source, the ocean that covers three-quarters of the planet, has yet to be tapped in any major way for electricity generation. However, dozens of technology companies and project developers are now striving to change that, working to make hydrokinetic power the next hot renewable energy sector.
More than 300 projects are currently in the pipeline around the world, and a new report from Pike Research forecasts that this nascent industry will grow to provide 2.7 gigawatts of power generation capacity by 2015, up from just 264 megawatts in 2008. But the future of ocean energy beyond this initial phase is highly uncertain. If the sector really takes off, Pike Research estimates it has the potential to provide up to 200 gigawatts of generation capacity by 2025. But if key challenges are not faced successfully, marine renewable power could be relegated to niche status.
“The next five years will be ‘make or break’ for the ocean energy business,” says industry analyst Peter Asmus. “Each of the five major marine energy technologies remains unproven beyond small pilot projects. Other challenges include regulatory uncertainty, shortage of capital for project development, and lingering environmental concerns.”
During this formative period for the industry, adds Asmus, some of the key players to watch are: Aquantis, Marine Current Turbines, Ocean Power Technologies, Ocean Renewable Power Company, Oceanlinx, OpenHydro, Pelamis Wave Power, and Verdant Power.
Pike Research’s study, “Hydrokinetic and Ocean Energy”, assesses the market opportunity for five main types of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies: ocean wave, tidal stream, river hydrokinetic, ocean current, and ocean thermal. The report includes an examination of business drivers, regulatory issues, implementation challenges, and the competitive landscape, along with detailed market forecasts for each technology through 2015. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.