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

Technology

Intelligent grabbing technology SmartGrip by Liebherr

For the mobile harbour crane range Liebherr has developed an intelligent system which optimises grab filling rates in a self-learning manner. In a comprehensive study,

ISS's Innovative Series of New Travel Apps for Cruise Industry

Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) the world’s leading maritime services provider, has launched an innovative series of travel apps for the cruise industry in Greece,

ClassNK Holds LNG Fuel Technologies Seminars

ClassNk held LNG-Fuelled Vessel Technologies seminars in Shanghai and Singapore on 22 July and 24, July 2014, respectively. With the industry looking to adopt

Environmental

BOEM to Gather Data on Potential Oil & Gas Areas

As part of its commitment to a regionally tailored approach to safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Rosneft Starts Up Field Work in the Kara Sea

On July 24 this year, research vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin sailed from Kirkenes (Norway) to the Kara Sea. In the next three months 2D seismic survey, will

MOL Commended with Quality Ship Awards

MOL Commended for ‘FY2013 Best Quality Ship Award’; MOL president Koichi Muto meets with captain and chief engineer, exchanging views and working to establish a more solid safe operation system.

Energy

Australia Approves Adani's $16 bln Carmichael Coal Project

The Australian government on Monday approved Indian firm Adani Mining Pty Ltd's controversial A$16.5 billion ($15.5 billion) Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland,

Tanker with Iraqi Kurdish Oil Anchors off Texas Port

A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was anchored near the Port of Galveston, Texas, and must undergo a routine safety inspection by the U.S. Coast

BOEM to Gather Data on Potential Oil & Gas Areas

As part of its commitment to a regionally tailored approach to safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

News

Australia Approves Adani's $16 bln Carmichael Coal Project

The Australian government on Monday approved Indian firm Adani Mining Pty Ltd's controversial A$16.5 billion ($15.5 billion) Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland,

Tanker with Iraqi Kurdish Oil Anchors off Texas Port

A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was anchored near the Port of Galveston, Texas, and must undergo a routine safety inspection by the U.S. Coast

BOEM to Gather Data on Potential Oil & Gas Areas

As part of its commitment to a regionally tailored approach to safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Offshore Energy

Rosneft Starts Up Field Work in the Kara Sea

On July 24 this year, research vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin sailed from Kirkenes (Norway) to the Kara Sea. In the next three months 2D seismic survey, will

Wagenbourg New Crane for Oil, Gas, Energy Sector

Wagenborg Nedlift has expanded her crane fleet with a brand new 700 tonnes mobile crane. With this crane the fleet is significantly strengthened. Equipped with

Study: An Arctic Oil Well Blowout Could Spread More Than 1,000km

Oil from a spill or oil well blowout in the Arctic waters of Canada's Beaufort Sea could easily become trapped in sea ice and potentially spread more than 1,000 kilometres to the west coast of Alaska,

Underwater Engineering

Search for Flight MH370: Update

Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says that a bathymetric survey of the 60,000km2 search area is well underway, with two vessels, the Australian-contracted

Rosneft Starts Up Field Work in the Kara Sea

On July 24 this year, research vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin sailed from Kirkenes (Norway) to the Kara Sea. In the next three months 2D seismic survey, will

Gulf Island Fab Sign Bechtel Offshore Cooperation Agreement

Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc. says it has signed a cooperative agreement with Bechtel Oil, Gas, and Chemicals, Inc. to work together to pursue opportunities for offshore projects for the U.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
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: 4.8034 sec (0 req/sec)