Term "marine renewable energy" includes following renewable energy sources: offshore wind, wave, tidal, and ocean currents, as well as exploiting salinity and temperature gradients and using algae for biofuel production.
All marine renewables have one thing in common and this is the fact that they have just started developing, which means that most of them are currently in testing phase, and many years will pass before these sources will start to play significant role in satisfying global hunger for energy.
Many marine renewables have enormous potential, but potential is one thing, and turning this potential into cost-competitive energy source something completely different, and very hard to achieve. According to the latest report by the Marine Board of the European Science marine renewable energy could by 2050 provide up to 50% of electricity needs in Europe so the potential is definitely there. The huge potential is the main reason why marine renewable technologies should get more funding, more research, and in general bigger political support.
Offshore wind power is currently the most popular marine renewable energy source. Offshore wind is receiving lot of attention from many countries of the world, and UK for instance plans to build its clean energy future by mostly relying on offshore wind farms, and will also use offshore wind as its main asset in clean energy race. Many energy experts estimate that in years to come wind power projects will move offshore mostly because of more frequent and powerful winds.
Marine renewable energy research should not be solely focused on how to make marine renewable energy projects more economically viable but also to study their possible environmental impact and their effect on marine ecosystems.
The further development of marine renewable energy technologies would mean more renewable energy jobs for many people. Offshore wind power could create 70,000 jobs in the U.K by 2020 if everything goes as planned, and many other countries that have marine renewable energy resources at their disposal could also benefit from developing strong domestic marine renewable energy sector.