Traditionally, offshore energy exploitation has occurred through production of fossil fuels. However, increasing attention is being focused on various forms of offshore renewable energy as it can reduce fossil fuel emissions, create green jobs, lead to local economic returns for coastal communities, and facilitate movement towards a low-carbon economy. Recent research indicates the presence of significant offshore energy in the form of winds, waves, currents, and tides. Spurred by the promising potential of these resources and an improving policy environment, efforts are under way in different offshore areas to assess resource potential, examine various technical approaches, and install renewable energy devices. Obstacles to development of this industry remain, and include technical difficulties, potential environmental impacts, and lack of funding. These obstacles must be overcome before the industry can become a viable alternative to carbon-based energy sources. Policy alternatives to overcome these obstacles, to stimulate offshore renewable energy development, and to level the playing field for these resources are discussed.
- Issues surrounding offshore renewable energy are discussed and policy recommendations put forth.
- Some forms of offshore energy present notable potential for utility-scale electric generation.
- Obstacles include technical issues, potential ecological impacts, and lack of funding.
- Small island states present a unique context for offshore renewable energy.
- Various policy options are being examined and implemented, with varying success.