Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - OCEANERA-NET (The coordination of national research activities of Member States and Associated States in the field of Ocean Energy (ERA-NET))

Project Context and Objectives:
The Ocean Energy ERA-NET (OCEANERA-NET), as a network of European marine energy research funding organisations, has been developed to coordinate ocean energy research in Europe to reduce duplication, benefit from transnational cooperation, further the extent of research carried out and provide a Europe-wide research gap analysis.

Europe is ideally positioned to make use of the natural waves and tidal streams that surround our continent. The potential for ocean energy in Europe is huge, 334GW for wave & tidal power and around 50GW for salinity gradient Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology also offers significant export and development potential for tropical coastal areas. This potential means the ocean energy sector will make a mainstream contribution to the energy mix by 2050, contributing up to 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity demand .

The goal of the ocean energy industry, as stated in the European Ocean Energy Association Industry Vision Paper, 2013, is to deliver reliable and cost-effective electricity from several small ocean arrays of up to 10 MW from 2015, the front-runners to deliver large-scale projects of up to 50MW by 2020, in preparation for wholesale market roll-out by 2050. It is recognised that such a vision can only be achieved by fostering partnership at the European level.

As a young sector there are still a number of unanswered questions covering both the development of technology and non-technological barriers, the resolution of which will help the sector as a whole through reducing risks, costs and speeding deployment. When the ERA-NET proposal was submitted is was noted that although much of the joint research undertaken so far in Europe has been on an ad-hoc basis, there had been activity to develop more strategic coordination through the European Ocean Energy Association (EU-OEA); the International Energy Association – Ocean Energy Systems (IEA-OES) and more recently the EERA Ocean Energy Joint Programme. Efforts to improve coordination have increased since the project began.

In January 2014, the European Commission produced a Communication on Ocean Energy, which recognised the significant potential contribution of ocean energy and led to the creation of the Ocean Energy Forum, which will “bring together stakeholders ... in order to develop a shared understanding of the problems at hand and to collectively devise workable solutions". The Communication aims to help the sector to find common solutions by developing a European Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap.
The new Technology and Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy (TP Ocean) will provide the technology stream of this work. OCEANERA-NET will aim to work alongside these initiatives to deliver a coordinated approach to the development of the sector and identify specific activities to be taken forward within the remit of the project.

The overall objective of the OCEANERA-NET is to facilitate coordination of research in the ocean energy sector across Europe. In achieving this objective it will avoid duplication, promote information sharing, and scientific excellence by furthering links between institutions and researchers across Europe. This will in turn give Europe a competitive advantage in the global pursuit of commercialising ocean energy.

The specific objectives required to achieve this include:

• To promote information exchange – the keystone to a successful ERA-NET will be developing strong information exchange networks and links between the regions
• To assemble and analyse information and views on the management of current and planned ocean energy programmes: funding schemes, eligible R&D operators, evaluation, monitoring and dissemination
• To engage in a dialogue process on regional and national priorities: how they can work in synergy and progress towards joint programming
• To develop a common toolkit to enable the management and evaluation of joint transnational activities and calls
• To launch joint transnational activities and calls. By achieving the previous objectives OCEANERA-NET will be well placed to launch joint transnational activities and calls. The ERA-NET will launch a pilot call towards the end of the first year of the project. Based on the successful launch of the pilot joint call, the ERA-NET aim to launch a joint call on an annual basis where partner member states and regions priorities and funding allows
• To promote a sustainable and growing coordinated research community for future calls and activities
• To act as a leverage for further research and innovation funding at European, national or regional scale in the context of Horizon 2020 and the development of cohesion policy 2014-2020

Project Results:
Since the beginning of the project, work has focused on the following areas:

• Promotion of information exchange through OCEANERA-NET partner profiles and presentations, consortium meetings, 2 joint workshops with the European Energy Research Area Ocean Joint Programme, other events and the project website.
• Gathering of information on national and regional policies and programmes, research and demonstration capacity and the European ocean energy sector, to provide a basis for identifying gaps and opportunities for collaboration.
• Engaging in a dialogue process on regional and national priorities, through consortium meetings, meetings between the Strategic Advisory Board and Operational Dialogue Working Group and joint workshops.
• Development of a toolkit and implementation of a pilot joint call for transnational, collaborative research and development projects and strategic documents to guide the design and implementation of joint activities and calls.
• Launch of the pilot joint call in October 2014, promotion of the call at European and national / regional level and administration of the application process. Implementation of other joint activities – 2 joint workshops with EERA OJP, brokerage event at OEE conference, October 2015.
• Development of communication materials and raising awareness of the project and opportunities presented by joint calls
• Working towards a sustainable and growing coordinated research community for future calls and activities through inclusion of specific activities in the draft Action Plan.
• Considering opportunities to act as leverage for further research and innovation funding at European, national or regional scale in the context of Horizon 2020 and the development of cohesion policy 2014-2020, such as the scope for an ERA-NET Cofund for ocean energy. This area will be considered in more detail in Period 2.

The project aims to develop an inventory of research programmes, research and demonstration capacity and projects in the ocean energy sector, through an annual stakeholder survey. An initial study took place early in the project, to identify short term priorities for the pilot joint call. A stakeholder survey then took place during December 2014 / January 2015. The database of ocean energy research programmes has been added to the SETIS Energy Knowledge Research Centre database and summary information on the Scientific and Technology Mapping has been published on the project website. The Annual Study of the European Ocean Energy Sector, taking cognisance of the survey results and other initiatives and publications, has been used to guide the projects strategic framework and action plan.

Strategic documents have been developed to identify research needs and opportunities for collaboration. These include an early report on the Short Term Challenges Focus for a Pilot Joint Call and a Framework for Strategic Activities towards Joint Programming. The framework looks at the needs of the sector and the niche areas where OCEANERA-NET can add value, presenting six strategic actions on joint programming and other joint activities. A Shared Vision document has also been developed. These documents will guide the future work of the project and have been used to draft the Action Plan, which will be completed in Period 2.

A pilot joint call for collaborative research and development projects was launched on 23 October 2014. 10 funding organisations from 6 countries and 4 regions participated in the call, with a combined indicative funding pot of EUR 7M. The scope of the First Joint Call 2014 was needs-driven research addressing a technological area in the ocean energy sector and in addition it could address environmental and financial/legal issues. The call was promoted through an Information and Brokerage Event, a Webinar and national / regional meetings. 27 Pre-Proposal applications were received, involving a total of 118 applicants, and 18 Full Proposals were received on the deadline of 1 April 2015, involving 79 applicants, total project costs of EUR 14.7M and requested funding of EUR 9.8M. A comprehensive joint call toolkit was prepared. This will be adapted for use in future OCEANERA-NET joint calls.

The communication and dissemination tools for the project have been provided – a Communication and Dissemination Strategy, project website, stakeholder database and a range of promotional materials. Communication activities have included specific events relating to the pilot joint call, and participation events and meetings at European and national / regional level, generic and call specific flyers, and the first e-newsletter.

Potential Impact:
The objective of OCEANERA-NET is to coordinate research funding for the ocean energy sector in Europe. It is intended that the work of OCEANERA-NET will provide a significant contribution to the development of the European ocean energy research agenda through the Strategic Energy Technology Plan. The ERA-NET will help to ensure that the limited research funding available across Europe is better focussed on priority areas that underpin the development of commercially viable ocean energy concepts.

Expected impacts of the OCEANERA-NET will be: increased coordination of research in the ocean energy sector; reduction in duplication in research in this sector across the European member states; wider dissemination of results and impact of studies where more researchers have been involved; more extensive research packages due to greater extent of resources to be used in programmes; and acceleration of sector maturation.

By the end of the project, it is expected that:

• A significant resource of information about the sector will have been created, improving the targeting of research funding efforts
• A number of strategic documents will have been agreed, through analysis of available data and consultation and coordination with key stakeholders, which will provide a sound basis for development of national and regional research programmes and in particular added value, transnational collaboration
• Two or three transnational calls for collaborative research projects will have been implemented, targeted on identified research needs of the sector, and providing significant funding to support the industry and research community to work together to tackle common issues, make technical advances, improve the reliability and performance of ocean energy devices, reduce the cost of energy and progress towards commercial deployment
• Other joint activities will have been implemented to promote communication and common understanding of research needs and take specific action where it can be seen that the ERA-NET can add value
• The results of OCEANERA-NET and the funded research projects will have been widely disseminated, promoting knowledge exchange, learning and utilisation of results
• An approach will be agreed to continue cooperation among the consortium partners and other relevant countries and regions will be engaged to join the network and participate in future joint activities

It is expected that, following successful joint calls during the project, there will be further opportunities for joint programming and calls between at least some of the consortium members. Even if future formal joint calls are limited in coverage or numbers, the work of the ERA-NET will have developed a shared vision and research agenda, strong working relationships between regions and countries, and a basis for future coordinated action, at a minimum comprising stronger cooperation on research programming to avoid duplication and ensure key common challenges are addressed, and cooperation on between the regions joint research projects.

The work of the project will have longer term impact in the following ways:

The implementation of OCEANERA-NET will impact on the growth of the sector by helping to answer the research challenges and developing an integrated information exchange network. By promoting the development of the sector and the prize that comes with it – potential for 380 GW of ocean energy by 2050 – the ERA-NET will support increased energy production from renewable sources, reduced CO2 emissions and the growth of an industrial sector creating jobs across all aspects of the value chain. Due to the nature of the ocean energy industry and where the resource is found these jobs will include remote locations where skilled work is not readily available and will support local supply chains during manufacture, installation and also operations and maintenance. The biggest impact in terms of the production of clean, green energy from ocean energy will be beyond 2020, but the potential for generation at this time is huge and is waiting to be realised.

The advantages that close collaboration can provide will enable the developing European ocean energy sector to maintain first mover advantage and compete effectively with technology concepts currently under development in other parts of the world but at the same time support collaboration where this is in the common interest of developing the sector and the contribution it can make to global energy and climate challenges.

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