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Marine Energies


Marine energy is in its initial phases of development. Forecasts for 2020 indicate that the accumulated capacity in the world will be increased by around 100 MW, which will represent a market that is still small with just a few operational projects grid connected.

Graph 11. Evolution and forecasts of accumulated capacity 2009-2020 - MW

Source: International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Installed capacity in Europe in 2016 was 254MW, 94% of which correspond to a single wave power plant in France. As well as France, the only country that has a significant level of installed capacity is South Korea, the world leader with 260 MW.

The tidal range is the most advanced technological field and represents 97% of installed energy capacity. It is a mature technology that is being installed in plants in countries such as South Korea and China.

The other technologies to exploit ocean wave energy are still in the development, innovation or prototyping phases. Although Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and Saline Gradient Energy have been part of recent R&D projects, in the last decade major efforts have been made in the development of tidal energy, and to a lesser extent wave technology.

Graph 14. Roadmap of each of the technologies used to exploit ocean energy 2016

Source: Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap – Building Ocean Energy for Europe (European Commission)



While the exploitation of ocean energy can come from different sources, wave power is the only marine energies with a certain potential for exploitation in Euskadi.

Waves High-medium potential in Euskadi (44 kW/m) MEDIUM-HIGH
Currents Need for speeds above 2m/sec, not the case in Euskadi LOW
Saline gradient Need for large masses of fresh water that flow into the sea, not the case in Euskadi LOW
Thermal gradient Need for surface sea temperatures around 25ºC all year round, and deep seas. not the case in Euskadi (only in the Tropics). NULO
Tides Need for an average fall in tides higher than 5 m, not th case in Euskadi (4-4.5 m) LOW

The Basque Government, through the Ente Vasco de la Energía, has made a firm commitment to marine renewable energies, as the Basque coast is an ideal site for the development and testing of wave energy devices and it has a technological and industrial basis to position itself as a world reference centre for these energies.


BiMEP – Biscay Marine Energy Platfrom is a grid-connected open-sea test area off the coast at Armintza for the demonstration and validation of wave energy converters and floating wind power platforms. The infrastructure was inaugurated in July 2015 and has the following features:

  • Navigation restricted area with perimeter beacons
  • Four 5-MW submarine cables with fibre optics
  • Depths of between 50-90 m
  • 24/7 surveillance of the area
  • Offices on land
  • Optimum wave and wind resources

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The wave energy plant at Mutriku

The plant for wave testing and power generation plant at Mutriku was opened in July 2011. It uses oscillating water column (OWC) technology to generate energy; when the wave arrives, the water enters in the chamber and compresses the air inside it, which emerges under pressure through an orifice at the top. On the way, it drives a turbine that in turn acts on an alternator that produces electricity. When the wave retreats it sucks air through the same orifice and drives the turbine again to generate more electricity. The plant is equipped with 16 turbines and a total installed capacity of 296 kW.
As well as producing energy, the plant provides a unique opportunity for testing new air turbine designs, control strategies and ancillary equipment. To do this, it offers developers the following facilities:

  • Air chamber set into the sea wall
  • Circular opening of 750 mm diameter to connect the air chamber to the turbine.
  • Connection to the local grid
  • Availability of data from sensors: pressure and water level inside the chamber, humidity and ambient temperature in the gallery,

Guided visits

Mutriku Town Council and the Ente Vasco de la Energía have set up a series of guided visits to the wave energy plant. These visits can be arranged directly in the Tourism Office in Mutriku (in Plaza Txurruka) or by phone on 943.603.378 or email


The main objective of the Ocean Energy Plan 2017-2020 is technological and industrial development, while the objectives associated with energy development are ambitions in the long term. This is due to the low level of maturity of wave exploitation technology.

  2015 2020 2030
Yield (Ktep) 454 539 966
Percentage of end consumption 13,2 14,0 21,0
Electrical capacity (mw) 0,3 10 60
Yield (Ktep) 0,023 2 13
% of renewable production 0,3 0,4 4,4

Euskadi has sufficient industrial capacity in the specialities that can contribute knowledge and experience for the development of wave power: it has established shipbuilding and capital goods sectors, especially in the field of electrical equipment.

No. of companies + 350
Total revenues 44.000 M€
Expenditure on R&D 400 M€
International business 65%
No. of companies + 150
Total revenues 2.150 M€
Expenditure on R&D 215 M€
International business 80%

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