Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy

The Australian national Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 approved
The passing of this bill is a strong step forward in support of Australian ocean energy development. This provides a policy framework for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore electricity projects in Australian Commonwealth waters. It supports state and national planning.
Of the three license streams in the Bill framework — 1) Commercial, 2) Research and Demonstration, and 3) Transmission and Infrastructure — stream 2 could provide opportunities for collaborative offshore wind and wave projects, as it is intended for small-scale projects to undertake research and testing to demonstrate emerging technologies. It also has the possibility to overlap with stream 1, indicating potential commercial opportunities.
National Marine Energy Standards Committee – EL066 – first year

The National Marine Energy Standards Committee completed a full year of operation, after forming in 2020. The committee is now well-established. It is a Mirror Committee to the International Electrotechnical Commission on Marine Energy Standards, better known as IEC TC 114 Marine Energy – wave, tidal and other water converters. The Australian committee sits within Standards Australia which is the nation's peak non-government, not-for-profit standards organisation.
Ocean Energy Policy Initiatives by Australian States
The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan was released in December 2020, aiming to grow the renewable energy sector sustainably over the next 20 years. The plan includes a new interconnector to mainland Australia, so that the increased renewable capacity can be exported as green energy to mainland Australia.  The aim is to attract new load and energy intensive industries to Tasmania for jobs growth. Tasmania’s offshore resources are acknowledged as a possible new generation in support of the State’s renewable energy goals.  Ocean energy is specifically identified along with the Blue Economy CRC offshore renewable energy program research and development.
Victorian Draft Marine and Coastal Strategy
was made available for comment in late 2021, building on the Policy released in 2020, including specific policies relating to marine and coastal industries. The final Strategy will be released in 2022, directly benefiting ocean energy initiatives in the State, with priority actions for the next 5 years.  

With maturing ocean energy technologies, test centres, and research and development growing in Australia, the industry is unbalanced in terms of supply and demand.  While the ocean energy sector is strong on the supply side, it is weak on customer demand.
The industry group, Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG) initiated a comprehensive Ocean Energy Market Development Program to increase market demand. This is initiative is intended to address a lack of end-user awareness, accessibility to ocean energy experts and technology, affordability via business and financial models for varying applications of ocean energy and lack of an established commercial project delivery scheme – all addressing the incentives for end-users to transition to an ocean energy system.  AOEG believes that demonstrating demand by Blue Economy customers will lead to the establishment of government market incentive support.
Several public funding programs are in place which supports ocean energy systems in Australia. Programmes with a track record of supporting ocean energy activities include:

Commonwealth Funding Bodies:
The Australian Commonwealth funding bodies were described in detail in the 2020 report and include:
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
  • Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program
  • National Energy Resources Australia (NERA)  
  • Australian Research Council (ARC) 
  • Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC) 
State funding
In addition to Commonwealth public funding programs, State Government public funds are growing and supported R&D for ocean energy development, most notable of these are Western Australia supporting Marine Energy Research Australia (MERA), New South Wales Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program (focused on supporting clean technology innovation) and Victorian Energy Innovation Fund supporting offshore renewable development.

The OES is organised under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) but is functionally and legally autonomous. Views, findings and publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.