The Marine Renewable Energy market includes a variety of technologies, with offshore wind being the most advanced (bottom-fixed foundation to the seabed or anchored floating devices). Ocean energy (tidal and wave power, ocean thermal energy conversion, salinity gradient), floating solar photovoltaic (FPV), and offshore renewable hydrogen production are all in the early stages of development.
In 2020, the European Commission published the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy, which outlines the expected contribution of the Marine Renewable Energy sector to the EU with ambitions to be net zero emission by 2050. The Strategy aims to grow Europe's offshore wind capacity from 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050.
The tremendous energy potential throughout all of Europe's sea basins and the global leadership position of EU enterprises in the industry are driving this ambitious growth. Floating offshore wind, ocean energy technologies such as wave or tidal, floating solar installations, and algae to make biofuels, are all examples of this dominant position.
Overall, floating wind technology opens up the possibility to harvest the most resourceful wind energy sites in Europe. Indeed, Europe's technical potential for floating offshore wind is at 4 540 GW, with 3 000 GW in the deep sea (water depth between 100 m and 1000 m). Furthermore, due to its geological condition and offshore renewable energy development level, each sea basin has unique possibilities. As a result, different technologies are more effective for specific sea basins.
Ocean energy is a mostly untapped renewable energy source, but it has enormous potential to help the EU energy system decarbonise even more. The most advanced ocean energy technologies are tidal and wave energy, which have tremendous potential.
Given the EU's resources and technological advancements, ocean energy development in the EU is predicted to be heavily dependent on the deployment of tidal and wave energy converters in the short-to-medium term (up to 2030).
It is expected that by 2050, offshore wind will be supplemented by 40 GW of ocean energy and by other new technologies such as floating wind and solar. In addition, offshore renewable is contributing significantly to another EU strategy: the EU Hydrogen Strategy, with an aim to have 40 GW of renewables linked electrolysis capacity in the EU by 2030.
The total installed capacity of ocean energy projects globally is 574 MW, with 494 MW coming from tidal range projects (240 MW in France and 254 MW in the Republic of Korea). By the end of 2021, the total cumulative installed capacity of ocean energy worldwide, excluding the tidal range, had reached 46 MW. However, the number of active devices contributing to network capacity is lower, as some of the devices have been deactivated after successful testing programmes. Around 75% of the global capacity is deployed in European waterways, evenly split between the EU27 and the UK (15.6 and 15.9 MW ).
The global market for floating offshore wind represents a significant market opportunity for EU enterprises. Recent national floating offshore wind targets (especially in Europe and Asia) point to a significant increase in deployed capacity in the mid-term. By 2030, around 12.2 GW to 16.5 GW of floating offshore wind energy capacity is expected, with large capacities in some Asian countries (South Korea and Japan), alongside European markets (France, Norway, Italy, Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom).
In the second part of this decade, the existing European leadership in floating offshore wind deployment is projected to shift, with South Korea and Japan joining the established European markets (Norway, the United Kingdom and France). As a result, European countries (including the United Kingdom and Norway) are likely to lose market share in floating offshore wind from 71% in 2021-2025 to around 44% in 2026-2030. Asia (37%) and North America (19%) are likely to control important portions of the market by then. In the mid-term, no significant floating offshore capacity is predicted in China due to wind resources in shallow waters, allowing the deployment of bottom-fixed offshore wind.