Enel Green Power is testing innovative solutions to utilise the power of the seas and oceans in full respect of the environment. Are we really entering the golden age of marine energy?
71% of the planet Earth is covered by oceans, a fundamental resource for renewable energy. We’ve explored the potential of the sun and the wind, we’ve gone to the heart of the planet with geothermal activity, but our research and constant experimentation now lead us to search for innovative solutions able to produce clean energy from waves, currents and tides, with an environmental impact close to zero.
Of all the renewables, marine energy is the area with the greatest potential. Some estimates, based on the resource available, predict a development of 130 GW in the next decade. This is why we are already working to support the development of technologies that are reliable and easily replicable on a large scale.
“The technological roadmap is the most important challenge to overcome. To date, we have not yet identified technologies that are sufficiently reliable, replicable on a large scale and economically competitive with those used for other renewable sources. This is why we are supporting the development of the most promising ones.”
– Giovanni Tula, Head of Innovation and Sustainability for Enel Green Power
Capturing the most powerful waves
Not all marine energy sources are the same. The machines we are designing produce energy mostly from waves, a type of technology that is still partly unexplored and that allows us to define our know-how and to gain a considerable competitive advantage. We also closely follow devices that use currents, which are currently more common but have a much more limited growth trend.
“We are looking at the places on the planet where the waves are highest and strongest, like the oceanic part of the Iberian Peninsula, Africa’s west coast, a large part of the Chilean coast and of North America, and obviously those in Indonesia and Australia that are so well loved by surfers from around the world. ”
– Antonella Colucci, IBO (Innovation Business Opportunities) Marine manager
The conversion of marine energy into electricity may play an important role in addressing the growing energy demand worldwide.
“Marine technologies have almost no environmental impact, they transform a resource that is well distributed across the globe by making it available even in remote and coastal areas without taking up space needed for other human activities.”
– Giulia De Santis, IBO Marine manager
All the good of the sea
Three quarters of the globe is covered with water, so marine devices, however large, represent a minimal encumbrance when compared to the vastness of the places where they are installed.
We’ve entered into important agreements with academic partners and international bodies to develop our ability to predict the resource, to optimise productive performance, at the same time preventing their extreme environments from subjecting them to severe stress.
“The target we are working toward is the identification of technologies suitable for creating “marine farms” to entrust the base-load of renewables.”
– Armando Giacomi, Head of IBO Marine
Our future with the oceans
Following early prototypes and tests, the future of marine energy seems to be around the corner. We’ve been scouting to get to know every technology available in the world, searching for and selecting the most advanced ones. Similarly, we are working hard to find locations with the most potential, which are numerous but not infinite.
“At the moment, in Italy, we are tackling two ‘wave’ technologies: one near-shore and one on-shore, able to transform marine wave energy into electricity.”
– Roberto Suffredini, IBO Marine manager
Around the world, we’ve launched several evaluation projects: of the performance of various technologies in real conditions, of the life cycles of the machines and of the mutual sea-machine impact. We are trying to use every tool possible to gain know-how and obtain a competitive advantage in light of the golden age of marine energy that is coming.