Renewable energy from the ocean and tides: A viable renewable energy resource in search of a suitable regulatory framework

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Ocean energy technology involves a range of engineering technologies that are able to obtain energy from the ocean using a variety of conversion mechanisms. Over the past few years there has been significant progress towards the development of commercial scale operations of ocean energy, especially hydrokinetic energy (where the energy of ocean (or fluvial) currents and tides is captured by devices which are installed under the surface of the water) and wave energy (where the energy of the surface wind waves is used to produce electricity by a variety of devices installed on the surface of the sea). Ocean energy is now on the threshold of providing a reliable base-load source of renewable energy on a commercial scale. While technological barriers are being overcome the lack of clear regulatory frameworks in many countries is now emerging as a barrier to wide-scale development of ocean energy. Regulatory frameworks need to be developed to more suitably deal with the relatively benign environmental impacts of ocean energy in particular. Where regulatory regimes do exist there is also a need for further streamlining of approval processes. The industry also needs feed-in tariffs to promote the widescale adoption of this technology.

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