Island Power

Islands and coastlines are in a controversial position regarding climate change. 800px-AgrihanNASA

On one side, as we expect today ocean levels will rise significantly and coastal cities and regions, as well as islands, are threatened the most.

On the other hand, climate change also makes us more aware of the downsides of traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy are becoming more and more significant. Besides wind and solar, there is a further medium that can offer significant amount of energy: water. And islands and coastal areas are the best sites to take advantage of wave and tidal power, being surrounded by seas and oceans.

According to the World Energy Council the potential amount of energy that can be sourced from just waves is between 8-80,000 TWh globally, and up to 2000 TWh per year seems to be economically feasible today but technological innovations in the future could increase this figure. 

The waters around the UK have been identified as one of the best locations for both tidal and wave energy, with a potential of up to 60 GW of electricity – which is approximately 75 per cent of the total electricity needs in the UK currently. 

There are already a number of large-scale devices being tested and installed in the surrounding seas, with the two key areas being the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park in Scotland and the South West Marine Energy Park between Bristol and Cornwall, which have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding about future co-operation.

Collaboration however can also extend across borders. The Marine Energy in Far Peripheral and Island Communities (MERiFIC) is a great example of international co-operation between the British and the French, involving members from Cornwall, Finistere, le Parc Naturel Marin d’Iroise and the Isles of Scilly. [3]

The MERiFIC initiative aims to investigate opportunities and threats, the economical and technical feasibility of marine energy utilisation in the area, besides a number of joint tests and research projects. Members, including the University of Exeter and University of Plymouth, have been working on developing a framework for other international partnerships that can be used by similar communities on other parts of the world.

International alliances like MERiFIC hence may mean a successful way of looking into the future in the renewable energy sector.

 

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