Europe’s Next Green Thing

Ireland’s OpenHydro and Germany’s RWE are spending millions to try to turn the power of waves into electricity.

With oil prices hitting almost daily record highs and global warming climbing up the public agenda, the need for alternative energy sources has never been more urgent. But while wind and solar have dominated the recent rush to invest in renewables, market watchers reckon it could now be marine energy’s turn to shine.

Ocean power — using the energy from waves or tidal flows to produce electricity — is quickly coming of age as a viable green resource that could help meet ambitious global targets to reduce greenhouse gases and dependency on fossil fuels.

European and North American power companies such as Canada’s Emera and Germany’s RWE are spending millions to fund wind and tidal projects. This investment has led to a new generation of more efficient technologies, with dozens of prototypes expected to be ready for commercial deployment within the next five years. “There’s huge interest in both wave and tidal technology,” says Thomas Boeckmann, clean tech analyst at market research firm StrategyEye in London. “It’s gaining a lot of attention from energy companies, which will be able to offer financial backing and technical expertise to these startups.”

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