Combining power from a range of renewable sources is a cost-effective way of supplying Europe with green energy, according to the official results of a multi-national project.

The EVOLVE project explored the potential for wave harnessing around Great Britain, Ireland and Portugal, identifying nearly 60GW of viable wave energy and 10GW of tidal stream energy. Just 10GW of ocean energy in Great Britain alone could save £1.5 billion (€1.7 billion) a year, reducing carbon emissions by up to 1.05 tonnes.

EVOLVE Project

Combining wave power with other sources of energy is key to consistent supply Photo: EVOLVE Project

But used in conjunction with other renewables, such as wind and solar, the benefits are even greater.

Using ocean energy data, researchers were able to show that wave energy generates more power when wind energy dips and that tidal stream generation is decoupled from wind, meaning that a combination of ocean and wind power provides greater value, rather than working in isolation.

A diverse mix

The more diverse a mix of renewables, the more consistent that energy production is, meaning peak demands can be met.

“The key headline from the EVOLVE Project is that including a higher proportion of ocean energy within our future electricity system consistently results in higher renewable dispatch, for the same total renewable energy availability, due to the offsetting of wave and tidal with wind and solar generation,” said EVOLVE technical manager Dr Shona Pennock, research associate in Marine Energy within Edinburgh University’s Policy & Innovation Group.

The two-year initiative was led by Aquatera with support from WavEC Offshore Renewables, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and The University of Edinburgh, along with wave and tidal energy developers CorPower Ocean and Orbital Marine Power.

It received funding from Scottish Enterprise, Swedish Energy Agency and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. Umbrella project OCEANERA-NET COFUND has also received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.