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Marine energy

The sea has great renewable energy potential. This energy is mainly seen in waves, tides and currents, and in the temperature differences between the surface and the sea bed.

The wind creates waves in the sea that can be exploited for energy purposes. Different “wave converters” have been developed – both floating or anchored to the coast or the sea bed – of different levels of technological maturity and performance.

In any event, research is making progress and marine energy is becoming important across Europe, as it allows work to continue with the required level of energy development in a sustainable manner that is environment-friendly. Euskadi has medium-high potential for exploiting wave power. To do this, it has reference research facilities at the European level: the wave energy plant at Mutriku and the installation for testing floating energy devices in the open sea called BiMEP.

TYPES OF MARINE ENERGY

Marine energy manifests itself in terms of saline gradient, ocean thermal gradient, tides, currents and waves.

WAVE POWER

Wave power is produced by the effect of the wind on the surface of the sea. The Bay of Biscay, with winds that generate waves of up to three metres on average, has great energy potential for Euskadi.

TIDES AND CURRENTS

The energy from tides and currents uses masses of water and the currents created between high and low tide marks. Large drops in the level or strong currents are required for these techniques to be applied.

OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY

This energy is produced by the temperature difference between the surface of the sea and the sea bed. The technique can only be used in very deep seas that are exposed to a high number of sunshine hours throughout the year.

SALINE GRADIENT ENERGY

The energy that can be used by the saline gradient occurs through the different salinity of different masses of water. This usually takes place in large estuaries.