The sea is full of energy, visible (wind, waves, coastal currents…) or less visible (heat, offshore currents…). Most of this energy comes directly or indirectly from solar radiation, a small part of the energy of the stars (Moon, Sun) and the internal radiation of the Earth (geothermal).

The ocean is the world’s largest solar cell.

Through a myriad of processes, the part of this energy that is not returned to space is stored, at least temporarily in the ocean, where it is available in multiple forms: wind, heat, currents, swell and waves, salinity gradients…

Interview Paris Energie Hydrolienne – 2017

In February 2017, we took part in the first edition of Paris Energy, an immersion in the world of Renewable Marine Energies and more specifically of hydrokinetic power. Between hopes and realities.

Our vision

The potential of marine energies is considerable, especially as soon as offshore areas and associated resources are taken into account (thermal energy in intertropical zones, wind including in the upper atmosphere, thermohaline currents, etc.). Their exploitation will require technological developments, but also and perhaps above all systemic changes, with regards to:

  • governance of the sea and offshore energy resources and regulation of their exploitation;
  • taking into account systemic effects and impacts (on the environment, on maritime activities such as transport or fishing);
  • seeking synergies for the exploitation of offshore marine resources (multi-use platforms, etc.);
  • integration into the future energy system: while the use of the “electricity” vector and direct connection to continental electricity networks may make it possible to accommodate a fairly similar production in the vicinity of the coasts, the large-scale development of marine energies will require a rethinking of this approach: conversion (e.g. to gases, hydrogen and carbon and nitrogen compounds; offshore storage, very long-distance transport of energy produced in the middle of the oceans).

Operation of MREs

MREs can be utilised through a wide range of technologies, at various stages of development: from the already perfectly operational “installed” wind turbine (wind turbines parks installed in depths of a few tens of metres, to osmotic energy (which utilises latent energy linked to the differences in salinity between fresh and salt water), of which there is only one prototype plant, via energy.

However, regardless of technology, the exploitation of MRE depends on many other parameters related to the ocean itself (available resources, technically and economically exploitable potential, environment and ecosystems) but also to its users (fishermen, navigators) and its residents.

MREs sites – Interactions

Beyond technical and technological issues, marine energy production parks pose potential integration problems:

  • integration into the marine and coastal environment
  • integration into the socio-economic environment (competition for space or resources, distribution of profits, etc.)
  • integration in the energy system: the potential of EMRs is very important, and they could satisfy virtually 100% of the energy needs in many coastal regions; but this requires an adaptation as much on the production side (how to produce what the system needs: what vector, when and where?) as on the energy system (electricity, gas and heat networks, storage, management of the system…).

Our areas of expertise

We assist project owners and strategy managers in the maritime and coastal integration of MREs.

Our interventions cover in particular:

  • The analysis of resources and potentials: this involves assessing the energy resources of a maritime area and the associated potentials (today, or tomorrow, depending on technological developments) with a view to develop strategies, plans and programmes or identify sites favourable to project development;
  • Environmental integration (integration in marine ecosystems, compatibility with environmental policies and regulations, especially European ones), whether at the strategic level (strategic assessment,”EIS”) to analyse the project level (impact assessment) or at the project level to identify;
  • Social or societal integration: more important than “acceptability”, it is important to analyse the stakes for each of the existing or future actors and taking them into account in a completely integrated approach;
  • Finally, energy integration: MREs must be integrated into an existing energy system, where it is not always easy for them to integrate, for reasons of supply and demand, transport, network, energy carrier.

Some examples of our interventions

  • Evaluation of the technical and economic potential of the MREs in a coastal region: assistance to the contracting authority (community) for drawing up the specifications of the consultation, selecting the service providers, monitoring the study, and carrying out the synthesis for the use of decision-makers (fixed and floating wind turbines, heat, current, swell and waves);
  • Assistance in drawing up specifications for the management of maritime risks for installed wind farms (maritime safety, explosive devices, etc.) for the benefit of an offshore wind operator (wind and floating wind).
  • In-depth analysis of maritime activities in the area of EMR park projects (laying and floating wind, marine power): based on maritime surveillance data, qualitative and quantitative analysis of existing maritime activities with a view to managing risks and potential conflicts;
  • Elaboration of strategic scenarios for the development of thermal energy exploitation of the seas (tropical island zone).

The remaining presentations at the Paris Hydrolienne Energy Forum is available on this playlist: