Elisa Obermann, Executive Director at Marine Renewables Canada (Canada) describes the fourth theme of the call for papers.
*Could you briefly explain what’s the purpose of this theme? What this topic is about
At this stage in industry development, there are still significant costs and risks associated with developing marine renewable energy, many of which are large and taken on by the private sector. However, many of the potential benefits are societal and environmental and therefore, governments play a critical role in participating in development and assisting with de-risking aspects of industrial development. Working with governments and investors as a partner is a major priority in how to ensure the that benefits of the marine renewable energy sector are aligned with government priorities and goals. In understanding the needs of the industry and opportunities that exist, governments can establish policies, strategies, funding mechanisms, and investment frameworks that will assist in the commercialization and build out of tidal and wave energy projects.
*What are the issues / the challenges?
Without a comprehensive strategies and collective effort among government(s) and industry, it will be extremely challenging for the sector to attract the investment needed to innovate, reduce costs, and grow. Governments will need to continue (or start) playing a role in developing strategies and tools that provide a long-term signal and future market path for marine renewable energy, making it easier for the sector to attract private investment. Clearly articulated goals of governments’ program funding andgovernments’ commitment and assist in future financing from commercial banks and private sector investors. Key areas that will assist in the maturing of marine renewable energy include:
– Assisting in access to finance: Significant investment is needed for marine renewable energy technologies and projects and the amount needed likely outweighs the available public funds. Therefore, it is critical that a risk-sharing approach is established, with public financing allowing the leveraging of private sector investment to its maximum potential. In the Canadian context, this can be achieved by aligning fiscal (e.g. Canada Revenue Agency) and risk reduction (e.g. BDC, EDC, Canada Infrastructure Bank) mandates to attract institutional finance into emerging renewable energy industry development.
– Providing innovation and research support: Support for research and accelerating innovation critical to industry advancement is necessary and assists in developing and demonstrating innovative technologies (core and enabling) and methods that lead to cost reduction, data collection, and monitoring.
– Investing in infrastructure: Investment in both electricity grid infrastructure and marine infrastructure is required as sector activity increases and it also supports other renewable electricity uptake and marine industries through updates and improvements of ports and marine facilities.
*What are your expectations?
This session will bring together leading government bodies and investors to talk about the strategies put in place to date and how support mechanisms have supported industry growth to date. The hope is that it will also provide some lessons learned and sharing of information among different governments — what strategies have been put in place and what the have the results been. And ideally, it will provide a platform for discussion around how governments may be able to collaborate to increase the effectiveness of individual jurisdictions’ policies and supports.