Ocean Energy in Islands and Remote Coastal Areas
Islands and remote coastal areas face energy challenges different from those of their continental counterparts. These regions tend to meet their energy needs through exchanges with mainland via submarine cables or their own fossil fuel-based generation facilities. Both alternatives pose problems that include vulnerability to the volatility of fuel prices, high carbon footprint, low fuel mix diversity and risks of disruptions in supply. Resilience and mitigation as well as sustainability are key concerns in islands and remote coastal areas. Low-carbon economies and clean energy technologies pose a relevant opportunity for these regions to address some of their concerns and challenges.
Ocean energy technologies currently struggle to compete with more mature renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind and solar in the utility market. Ocean energy technologies can be an appealing option for these energy markets, offering advantages compared to other renewable energy technologies such as low visual and environmental impacts and predictability. Islands and other off-grid markets may also present opportunities for ocean energy developers to deploy their technologies while providing environmentally friendly energy to local communities. These markets are paying high electricity prices compared to mainstream markets for two reasons: firstly, electricity is currently supplied by diesel generators and, secondly, electricity consumption per capita is (very) low, which dampens price responsiveness.
Potential challenges to the adoption of ocean energy technologies in these markets have been identified and include:
- socio-environmental issues such as misinformation and social acceptance;
- regulatory and political barriers due to the relatively nascent nature of the ocean energy sector where support mechanisms are missing;
- infrastructure (both hard and soft) not in place in these isolated regions;
- and a lack of financial incentives to aid the economic feasibility of the technologies.
To overcome some of these challenges, this report discusses opportunities to enable the integration of ocean energy technologies into the energy systems in islands and remote coastal areas and create synergies between the economic and energy sectors.