Renewable Energy: Security for Nations Dependent on Imports

SeaDiscovery.com
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Underwater Kite

by Anders Jansson, CEO, Minesto

The need for a secure and reliable energy supply is a seldom mentioned but very important driver for many nations moving towards clean and renewable energy supply. Paradoxically, the very factors that have made many nations dependent on imported energy, like being surrounded by water, can work to their benefit since many island nations have great potential for marine energy.

Those of us who remember the oil crises in the 70s, when OPEC strangled oil supply to the Western world and drastically raised the price of oil, do so with a shiver. Price controls, rationing, long petrol queues, cold buildings, and switched off streetlights are some mementos. Many economists blame the oil embargo for the near decade long recession in the 70s.

Most countries in the world are still net importers of energy. The U.S., Japan and Europe are hugely dependent on imported energy. Out of the 27 European Union countries, 26 are net importers. And as their own natural resources are becoming depleted, the dependency is increasing in many countries, not decreasing. The EU’s import dependency was 54% in 2010 compared to 40% in the 1980s.

A disturbingly large number of nations are almost completely dependent on energy imports. In this motley group we find countries like Luxemburg, Cyprus, Malta, Morocco, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, the Maldives, Ireland, South Korea, and many Pacific Islands. Many of these nations are geographically isolated (e.g. island nations) and also poor, adding insult to injury.

Having to import all or most of the energy needed to meet the national demand is not only expensive; it also has a number of other disadvantages:
•Much of the imported energy tends to be coal, oil and diesel which is ‘dirty’ energy and cause increased greenhouse effect.
•The importing nations become very vulnerable to price fluctuations on the world market. Price fluctuations for fossil fuels can have a critical effect on countries that import most of their primary energy.
•The energy importing nations become highly exposed to supply disturbances for a wide range of reasons, from piracy acts to logistical malfunctions like burst pipes, late vessels, bad weather etc.
•They also become exposed to political decisions and pressure, not only from the energy exporting nations but also from the international community (e.g. the international embargo in Iranian oil).

Many of the energy importing countries are desperately seeking alternatives. The good news is that renewable power production has a great potential to partially or completely replace imported energy and eliminate most or all of the disadvantages mentioned above in many countries. Access to inexpensive and secure local energy can be an enabler of growth in developing countries – it creates jobs that have to be carried out locally.

Marine energy can supply over 50% of South Korea’s energy needs

Some nations are well positioned to use a multitude of renewable energy – like solar, wind, biogas and marine energy – combined to achieve a clean, safe and reliable power supply. Some island nations in the tropics have an abundance of sun and also tidal and ocean currents nearby from which energy can be harvested, which can contribute to a diversified energy mix. Tidal and ocean currents are highly rich in energy; a water current of 1.5m/s contains as much kinetic energy as a wind blowing 40m/s.

Let us look at an example: South Korea has a vulnerable energy system and imports 85% of its energy, much of it coal and uranium. Recent events in South Korea stress the urge to increase the country’s security of energy supply; In August, two power plants malfunctioned at the same time while six nuclear plants were out of operation for a variety of reasons. The result: electricity shortages during a period of extreme heat.

But South Korea has a long coastline with energy-rich ocean and tidal currents and ocean energy is identified as a key area for public investments and stimulations. Estimates show that South Korea can potentially but realistically harvest half of the energy the country needs from the surrounding oceans. The country has a strong political will, which has become even stronger due to the recent events, to increase the local renewable energy supply, and programs are in place to support this development.

Another concrete example is Ireland. This island nation imports 86%of the energy it consumes, according to the World Bank. But as it happens, the Irish waters are especially promising for marine energy. There are many energy-rich high and low velocity tidal currents and a great wave climate surrounding the island. U.K. and Ireland can provide 25-50% of total European marine energy, according to a report from RenewableUK. These countries are well aware of this potential and encourage the development of marine energy.

Underwater kite increases the global marine energy potential

One highly promising marine power plant is Deep Green, an underwater kite that is undergoing an extensive test program in the waters off Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. This marine power plant is the only available technology that cost-effectively produces electricity from slow tidal and ocean currents. The amount of energy that is possible to harvest from tidal and ocean currents is greatly increased when low velocity currents are included. In addition, tidal and ocean currents can produce valuable base load supply in the power grid, which makes it possible to replace e.g. nuclear power.

Advocates for nonrenewable energy sources often state that renewable energy sources are too intermittent and lack reliability, since they depend on weather conditions to produce electricity (i.e. there will be periods when they cannot supply energy). This is not true for tidal and ocean current energy – the currents are highly predictable and stable.

These examples prove that marine energy and other renewable energy sources are not only a pipe dream. Safe and reliable energy sources are of high strategic value. Global investments in renewable energy have increased by over 520% from 2004 to 2012, totaling more than $240 billion in 2012. Many nations can move away from unsustainable energy import dependency to a healthy and secure supply of clean energy – good not only for them but for the entire planet.
 
Anders Jansson is cofounder and CEO of Minesto, an energy technology company in the field of marine energy, with a patented and proven technology (Deep Green) to harvest energy from low velocity tidal and ocean currents. He has eight years of experience from developing and commercializing marine energy technology, both as an entrepreneur and business leader with a background from Chalmers University of Technology.

www.minesto.com

  • Anders Jansson

    Anders Jansson

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

New Standard for LNG Cargo Containment Systems

Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS) said it has successfully completing the gas trial for the first LNG carrier built to a Boil Off Rate (BOR) of 0.08% per day.

Corvus Gains Support from WINN Initiative

Corvus Energy announced today the award of $1.3 million in repayable assistance from the Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative for its project to further develop the Corvus Energy Storage System.

Northrop Grumman Sponsors Maritime RobotX Challenge

Northrop Grumman Corporation is expanding its support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across the globe by sponsoring the Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore, Oct.

Environmental

IMO’s MEPC Addresses BWM Convention Issues

IMO’s environmental committee addresses implementation issues as ballast water management treaty nears entry into force Measures to assist in accelerating the

MEPC Approves Draft Polar Code

Draft Polar Code approved by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee A key step on the way to a mandatory Polar Code for ships operating in Arctic and

Autonomous Technology for Offshore Wind Farm

ASV Ltd in association with Planet Ocean Ltd, have received funding from the GROW:OffshoreWind initiative to investigate how the use of Autonomous Surface Vehicles

News

Nordic American Offshore Declares Dividend

Nordic American Offshore Ltd. today announced that its board of directors has declared a dividend of $0.45 per common share for the third quarter 2014. This is the same as for the second quarter 2014.

Missouri River Basin is Booming

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Basin Water Management Division is maintaining above normal releases at the four lower dams on the Missouri River.

Bollore Africa Logistics Sees Profit Plunge in H1

First half 2014 profit at shipping company Bollore Africa Logistics plunged to 5.89 billion CFA francs ($11.48 million) from 9.45 billion CFA francs in the same period last year,

Offshore Energy

Ocean Rig, Petrobras Agree to $1.1b Drill Ships Lease

Cyprus-based Ocean Rig UDW Inc said on Monday that it signed a $1.1 billion three-year contract with Brazil's state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, to

GAO: Ending Crude Export Ban Could Ease 'Price at the Pump'

As the energy profile of the U.S. continues to improve and evolve daily, fresh debate in favor of exporting oil and gas products -- which would have a significant impact on the U.

Autonomous Technology for Offshore Wind Farm

ASV Ltd in association with Planet Ocean Ltd, have received funding from the GROW:OffshoreWind initiative to investigate how the use of Autonomous Surface Vehicles

Underwater Engineering

Boskalis Consortium Wins Suez Canal Expansion Contract

A consortium consisting of Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis), Van Oord, NMDC (Abu Dhabi) and Jan de Nul (Belgium) has acquired a contract from the Suez

Hydroid Wins Gold at MassEcon Impact Awards

Hydroid, Inc., a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime and a leading manufacturer of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), today announced that it has been named

Mærsk Deliverer's Contract extended

Cabinda Gulf Oil Company Limited, a Chevron subsidiary in Angola, has extended the current contract for the ultra deepwater semi-submersible Mærsk Deliverer expiring in June 2015 by two years.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1693 sec (6 req/sec)