A Sea of Innovation

Published on Thursday, 29 March 2018

“The Marine Energy Unit carries out activities that we can define as Exploration rather than Exploitation. We are trying to figure out the most efficient way to help create a new sector with enormous potential, as well as add a new renewable source to our production mix.”

– Fabio Fugazzotto, Head of EGP’s Marine Energy Innovation Unit

The progress of so-called marine energy technologies is linked to the ability to identify appropriate sites for developing large-scale projects. It also involves the ability to power, with small devices, areas of the world with few resources that are not connected to the electrical grid, like some small islands.

It’s also very important to consider the development of a stable regulatory framework that gives clear long-term signals to support investments, in order to achieve the commercial development of these technologies.

Unfulfilled Potential

Unlike its “big sisters”, solar and wind, marine energy offers a wide range of different technological solutions to generate energy. The extraction of energy from waves is now possible, with technologies that are not fully “mature”, but it has greater potential in terms of resource availability and replicability.

“The long-term potential of waves is the highest, as they are the most common resource around the globe and are often near inhabited areas, where the energy produced can be used.”

The energy of the tides, although it is now exploitable with more advanced technologies (it is the most consolidated technology in marine energy), has limited long-term growth potential because of geographic limitations and the natural potential available, which is lower than waves.

A Constantly Evolving Worksite

In light of this situation, Enel is evaluating various initiatives located in Europe and around the world. Together with the scouting of single technological solutions, we are carrying out innovative projects like the Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center (MERIC), a centre of excellence for research and innovation for marine energy in Chile, created in collaboration with the French company Naval Group. Here, the aim is to create conditions that enable the development of the sector in Chile, incentivising the creation of know-how and the definition of the entire value chain.

In our action plan for the marine energy market, we also intend to participate in projects that assist in the development of innovative, reliable and operationally safe technologies, inexpensive to install and that perform in a wide range of resource conditions.

We are also participating in the development of tools to identify potential installation sites, predict possible environmental risks linked to marine generation plants and optimise the choice of technology based on surrounding conditions.

For Enel Green Power, the energy of the sea is a constantly evolving global construction site, where every detail is tested to identify the best technological solution to release the immense energy that the sea is ready to offer us.