Politicians seek to harness wave energy

When negotiations of the new energy package resume, the PM’s Socialdemokraterne will seek to set aside funds to subsidise the development of a wave energy industry

February 21st, 2012 10:20 am| by admin

In the future, consumers may be subsidising the development of wave energy in much the same way they support energy from windmills and biogas facilities, by purchasing the energy for a minimum price.

This is the hope of the energy spokesperson for the PM's Socialdemokraterne, Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, who has demanded support for wave energy when negotiations of the government’s new energy plan resume this week.

“[The Danish Energy Agency] Energistyrelsen estimates that wave energy could cover 30 percent of Denmark’s energy needs and there is a real likelihood it could take off,” Rosenkrantz-Theil said.

The idea is to find the funding from within the 3.9 billion kroner the government has set aside for the plan. This will mean that money will have to be diverted from other energy projects that are currently either being subsidised by consumers or intended to receive a share of government funding.

While Socialdemokraterne has not indicated how much economic support wave energy should get, the party adds that for a country surrounded by water, harnessing the energy of the sea is an obvious move.

“Given Denmark’s geography, it makes a lot of sense and it will also help create a lot of jobs, because, just like the wind turbine industry, wave energy requires both skilled and unskilled labour,” Rosenkrantz-Theil said.

Opposition party Venstre does not reject the notion of letting consumers subsidise the development of a new form of renewable energy, but their energy spokesperson, Lars Christian Lilleholt, said the government should be careful to predict the future of wave energy.

“Subsidising wind energy has created a lot of jobs and we are happy to subsidise other energy forms too,” Lilleholt said. “We have to, if we want to reach our goal of being free from fossil fuels by 2050.”

Wave energy is currently in its infancy, though major industrial supplier Danfoss has invested in developing commercial wave energy.

The chairman of the wave energy association, Erik Skaarup, looks to Scotland as a role model, as an example of a country that has made the necessary investments in wave energy.

“We risk falling behind because other countries long ago recognised its potential,” Skaarup said. "But we are far enough along that we could catch up to wind energy, if we also received the support to get it going.”

Skaarup added that a minimum price of between 2.5 and 3.5 kroner per kilowatt-hour for between 5 and 10 years would be necessary to develop the wave energy industry.

Wind energy is guaranteed a minimum price of 0.25 kroner per kilowatt-hour, though it has been much higher. Biogas is currently subsidised at a rate of 0.75 kroner per kilowatt-hour.

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