European Commission

Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy


The European Commission presented the European Green Deal[1] in 2019. It will be the most ambitious package of measures that should enable European citizens and businesses to benefit from sustainable green transition. In follow up of this package the Commission presented in 2020 an EU strategy on energy system integration, an Industrial Strategy for a green and digital Europe, and the offshore renewable energy strategy. The Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy is the key policy initiative released in 2020 to support the development of ocean energy in the EU. The strategy was released in the context of the European Green Deal and its ambition to drive the EU towards climate neutrality by 2050. The strategy recognises the role of ocean energy to contribute to the decarbonisation goal. The expectation is that by 2030 ocean technologies could make a significant contribution to Europe’s energy system and industry, particularly supporting grid stability and playing a crucial role in decarbonising islands in the EU. The Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy places significantly emphasis on the need to continue the cost-reduction of ocean energy technologies to enable for the uptake of wave and tidal energy technologies in the EU energy system. As foreseen by the strategy a crucial but feasible step to reach commercial size by 2030 would be implementing the existing pipeline of 100 MW pilot-farms projects by 2025.
It is expected that EU Islands can play a key role in the development of ocean energy technologies in the EU. EU Islands in fact provide attractive testing and demonstration grounds for innovative offshore electricity generation technologies. The Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative provides a long-term cooperation framework to promote replicable and scalable projects with funding from  private sector investors, relevant EU support instruments, and technical assistance, in order to accelerate clean energy transition on all EU islands. 
The offshore renewable energy strategy places a strong emphasis on the importance of integrating ocean energy technologies safely in the environment. As such, to facilitate dialogue on the environmental, economic and social sustainability of offshore renewable energy, the Commission is ready to facilitate and promote a ‘community of practice’ where all stakeholders, industry, social partners, NGOs and scientists can exchange views, share experience and work on joint projects.
To meet the EU’s energy and climate targets for 2030, EU Member States need to establish a 10-year integrated national energy and climate plan (NECP) for the period from 2021 to 2030 (See annual report 2020). The national plans outline how the EU Member States intend to address energy efficiency, renewables, emissions reductions, interconnections, and research and innovation and have been submitted in 2020.
The European Commission evaluated its Blue Energy Communication in 2020-2021. The main conclusions from this evaluation are the following: The EU successfully implemented the actions included under Phase 1 of the Communication, by setting up the Ocean Energy Forum and supporting the adoption of the Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap. For what concerns the actions under Phase 2, some progress has been made in the development of sector-specific guidelines for the implementation of relevant legislation, in relations to the EU Nature legislation and to the MSP Directive, but no European Industrial Initiative was set up by 2020. The Ocean SET-Plan adopted in 2018, however addresses, at least partially, the needs identified in the impact assessment. In addition, while outside of the scope of this evaluation, it must be noted that the Clean Energy Industrial Forum announced for 2021 in the EU offshore renewable energy strategy will also cover the ocean energy sector and therefore partially addresses the need for a European Industrial Initiative.
The European Commission has also included an analysis of the role of Ocean Energy in the first report on the progress of clean energy competitiveness, with recommendations on exploring specific business cases for ocean energy such as it value in the grid (beyond the LCOE) and its potential for decarbonising small communities and EU islands.

In 2020 the European Commission Launched the Innovation Fund succeeding the NER 300. The NER300 programme was the main market incentive scheme supporting first-of-a-kind commercial-scale renewable energy projects in previous years. Information about projects awarded can be found in previous annual reports.
The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies and it will provide around EUR 10 billion of support over 2020-2030 for the commercial demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies, aiming to bring to the market industrial solutions to decarbonise Europe and support its transition to climate neutrality. The Innovation Fund improves the risk-sharing for projects by giving more funding in a more flexible way through a simpler selection process and is also open to projects from energy-intensive industries. The Innovation Fund focuses on highly innovative technologies, such as ocean energy, and big flagship projects within Europe that can bring on significant emission reductions. It is about sharing the risk with project promoters to help with the demonstration of first-of-a-kind highly innovative projects. The first call for large-scale project proposals (capital costs >7.5 million EUR) was open in 2020. The first call for small scale projects (capital costs between EUR 2.5 and 7.5 million) was launched at the end of 2020 and will close in March 2021.
The Commission supports the ocean energy sector via BlueInvest. This programme aims to boost innovation and investment in sustainable technologies for the blue economy, by supporting readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. The BlueInvest pilot initiative managed by the European Investment Fund, provides financing to underlying equity funds that strategically target and support the innovative blue economy. This sector can play an important role in the transformation to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, an ambition announced in the European Green Deal. The programme is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
2020 was the last year for Horizon 2020 to publish calls for R&I projects. The last call was to support Green Deal and included a specific topic asking for projects demonstrating at sea critical offshore renewable energy innovations. Two ocean energy projects have been selected in this call: EU-SCORES and Forward 2030.
Horizon Europe will be the successor of Horizon 2020 and the budget proposal for Research and Innovation is 95.5 billion EUR. After adoption the programme will commence in 2021 and will include topics on ocean energy development under the Climate, Energy and Mobility subprogramme.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the European Commission is implementing the InnovFin Energy Demo Projects (EDP) scheme which provides support in the form of loans for first-of-a kind projects. InnovFin aims to facilitate and accelerate access to finance for innovative businesses and projects in unproven markets in Europe. The scheme helps reducing the financial risk of demonstration projects, offering equity and debts tailored to the need of the project.
From The InvestEU Programme will bring together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available and expand the successful model of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. With InvestEU, the Commission will further boost investment, innovation and job creation.

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.