Wave and tidal energy is a visible expression of the power of nature. Ambition to convert the natural energy bound up in marine systems into something useable by mankind goes back a long way and practical measures date from at least the 1940s. In the twenty-first Century efforts have increased enormously in response to the search for clean energy sources, a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases and the mitigation of the effects of climate change. Hundreds of millions of Euros have been invested in research and development and much has been learned. However, the solutions to a viable Ocean Energy industry remain elusive. The outstanding challenges are daunting in scale:
- The engineering challenge in the search for a device technology which will convert marine energy to usable energy with a degree of operational and economic efficiency.
- The operational challenge of installing, servicing and maintaining thousands of floating and fixed structures in high energy marine environments.
- The environmental and social challenge of understanding and managing the ecosystem and spatial impacts of such a heavy industrial intrusion into mainly coastal waters.
There have been recent setbacks with the failure of companies promoting what seemed to be promising technical solutions. However, the level of investment in research remains high involving ten or more nations including China, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. It must be expected that the ambition will be realised in the medium term. This chapter explores the state of the industry and the management challenges it reveals. The central challenge for the planning and management of a future wave and tidal energy industry is to move from a very early developmental stage in the lifecycle to a mature activity in a measured and sustainable way. Best practice in management and the step by step approach to precaution is examined.