Europe is leading the way in the development of renewable energy sources that harness the natural motion of waves and other marine phenomena.
Wave energy sources are abundant, consistent and predictable, and have the highest energy density among all renewable energy sources, according to research by Frost & Sullivan.
The most effective wave energy producing areas are between 40 and 60 degrees of latitude where the available resource can produce 30kW/m to 70kW/m, with peaks of 100kW/m.
The potential global wave energy contribution to the electricity market could be around 2,000TWh/year, equating to about 10 per cent of world electricity consumption.
Analysts predict that the marine energy sector is set to grow. But government support, financial investment and technological advances are vital to push the marine energy sector into the commercial mainstream.
"Wave energy technology is being developed in a number of countries, but Europe is leading the way in innovative technologies and pilot projects, and is pushing existing technologies towards commercialisation," said Gouri Nambudripad, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
"The UK, having some of the best wave resource in the world, is targeting 40 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2050 of which 20 per cent is to be sourced from wave and tidal energy.
"The UK is estimated to possess the capacity to generate approximately 87TWh of wave power annually equivalent to 20 to 25 per cent of current UK demand.
"Moreover, the UK has committed £25m since 1999 towards the wave and tidal programme."
The study divides wave energy devices into three main categories: shore-line, near-shore and offshore.
About 1,000 patents for wave energy converters are currently in the market and broadly fall under these categories. But with so many technologies there is no clear consensus on which will prevail.
There are two main research centres in Europe focusing on the development and commercialisation of ocean energy technologies.
The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland provides developers with sites to test prototypes. Government and other public sector organisations have invested around £15m in the creation of the centre and its two marine laboratories.
The Wave Energy Centre in Portugal provides strategic and technical support to companies, R&D institutions and public organisations. It also looks for international co-operation helping foreign companies test devices in Portuguese waters.
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