Primary Energy: Changing the Rulebook
Jun 21, 2018
The addressable market for any zero-emission electricity source goes beyond where electricity is used today. It extends to the much bigger potential markets for new uses for electricity and for replacing other forms of power used for cooking, heating and vehicles. These are making poorer progress toward zero-emission yet they cause greater damage to human health and global warming. Electricity is increasingly favoured instead of fossil fuels because of emissions and efficiency.
Photovoltaics, large inland hydro and wind power are the favoured forms. Photovoltaics can double efficiency, halving size. It can be made invisible in buildings and roads but it remains massively intermittent. Large hydro has few acceptable sites left. With Germany abandoning nuclear, it is going backwards in increasing use of Russian gas and installing coal power, though it has positives in wind and solar power. As baseload supply, hydro competes with nuclear power which has even greater issues. One way or another, the focus is forced back to zero emission as detailed in IDTechEx Research report, Off Grid Zero-emission Electricity 2018-2038: New Markets, New Technology Roadmap. That even extends to cities making their own electricity with megawatt smart roads and windows, turbines in the water supply and many other sources.
So what are we missing here? Disruptive technologies question gigantism so we got the mini steel mill, the backhoe digger and a printing works on your desk. What of the ever-more-massive wind turbines on their own islands off shore, the largest stressed structures made by man? Certainly the trend with ocean power is away from huge barrages with similar problems to yesterday's massive river dams. Now we have invisible open water tidal and wave devices with no infrastructure and minimal disruption to people, wildlife and ecosystems. Orders for farms of these have already been landed up to 100MW - nothing feeble in comparison with a farm of 5-10MW monster wind turbines and using a fraction of the materials.
Smaller electricity generation systems are also coming into favour because national grids are hacked, have long distance transmission lines impacted by increasingly violent weather and inflict unpredictable price increases. Cost of zero emission alternatives is coming down faster. These micro and minigrids are capable of working off grid and replace diesel and gas gensets, not just grid and cooking and heating by fossil fuels. Just replacing 400GW of diesel gensets is a huge opportunity as emission laws, poor safety and public outcry squeeze them to death.
The new IDTechEx Research report, Wave, Tidal and Hydro Power 1W-10MW 2018-2038 finds that power from the open ocean will gain market share due to rapidly increasing needs for electricity on, under and near the ocean. Important examples are empowering islands and coastal communities and desalination demand doubling every ten years. Aquaculture - fish and vegetables - is going off shore and doubling every twenty years.
The most polluting vehicles to deal with are ships - equivalent to millions of cars. Eight of the ten biggest cities are on the ocean and many are on rivers that can use the same new tidal stream power - invisible giant propellers on the ocean floor or extending below large boats with no infrastructure at all. IDTechEx believes that many proponents of the wave and tidal stream power are still engineering led, obsessed with beating the lowest cost of grid electricity and not even trying to market interim products. The others are very impressive, mostly achieving a great deal despite modest funding, though Carnegie Clean Energy in Australia has had over $140M invested to fund the development its CETO technology. This has demonstrated combined electricity and desalination supply. Like well-funded MeyGen in tidal stream power, it has also demonstrated enduring major grid supply with increasingly large modules in the 0.5-2MW range.
Raghu Das CEO of IDTechEx says, "Ocean power businesses such as wave power developers Wello, Seabased and Eco Wave Power are marketing led. They promote the more important uniques such as providing almost continuous or completely continuous electricity, taking no real estate and being virtually invisible and silent. Some wave power works well with only one meter waves and these are typically available all the time. Deskilled maintenance less often than wind is another plus as is installation and often redeployment in days not years. We are even beginning to see mobility and complete solutions being provided as required."
See www.IDTechEx.com/wave for more.