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Ocean (cross-cutting)


Technology Description

Ocean technologies are a broad technology family, encompassing a range of designs to generate electricity from energy in the sea, generally either in wave or tidal form. Tidal power harnesses energy from tides in a similar way to wind power. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) draws thermal energy from the deep ocean and converts it into electricity or commodities. Salinity gradient power is energy produced from the chemical pressure that results from the difference in salt concentration between fresh water and saltwater. This can therefore be exploited at river mouths where fresh and saline water meet. Two technologies are being developed to convert this energy into electricity: pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO) and reverse electrodialysis (RED). Finally, ocean current technology can harvest energy from sea currents, which always flow in one direction and are driven by wind, water temperature, water salinity and density among other factors; they are part of the thermohaline convection system that moves water around the world.

Relevance for Net Zero

Overall, as a renewable energy source, ocean energy brings overall carbon reduction benefits as demonstrated by several lifecycle assessment analyses as well as economic benefits associated with development and deployment. Furthermore, ocean energy technologies have high potential to create system benefits, specifically in balancing the electricity grid and improving the quality of power supply (i.e. leading to fewer frequency changes and reducing the need of expensive control systems). The reasons for this are twofold: firstly, unlike the more intermittent renewable sources, the energy of the sea is constant and the tides are entirely predictable.

Key Countries

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