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Ocean and hydropower

Oceans consist of vast renewable energy resources that can contribute to decarbonise power systems

Our seas and oceans offer vast renewable energy resources and can contribute to decarbonising the power system and help reach the EU’s renewable energy targets, as well as the objective of a carbon-neutral EU by 2050.

Ocean energy

Ocean energy technologies, like wave and tidal converters, can contribute to reaching the European energy and climate objectives. They are still in an emerging phase, but have the potential to provide steady and predictable power output.

Thanks to their industrial links with hydropower, shipbuilding, wind turbine manufacturing and offshore oil and gas, ocean energy technologies can rely on a strong, European supply chain.

The EU, its Member States, and the private sector have invested more than EUR 4 billion over the last ten years into research and pilot projects on ocean energy.

Through the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, the EU has set cost-reduction targets on ocean technologies for the next decade. For tidal stream technologies, the costs should come down to €0.15 per kWh by 2025 and €0.10 per kWh by 2030, and for wave energy to €0.20 per kWh by 2025 and €0.15 per kWh by 2030.

The first areas that could benefit from ocean technologies are offshore installations and islands that today have high electricity costs.

More information can be found in the Ocean energy barometer 2019 and in the CORDIS results pack that describes 10 EU-funded ocean energy technology projects.

Ocean energy technologies are also a part of Europe’s ‘Blue Economy’.


Hydropower is derived from flowing or water which powers a turbine. It is one of the oldest sources of renewable energy, having been used already in pre-industrial times, for instance in watermills.

It continues to be an important energy source today, representing 36% of the EU’s renewable electricity consumption.

Besides providing a lot of renewable electricity, the technology can also deliver services to Europe’s electricity system, such as flexibility and storage. Such services are important to maintain the stability of the electricity system and integrate a growing share of variable renewable production, for instance from solar and wind power, into the system.

Environmental impact

There are several pieces of EU legislation that address the environmental impacts of hydropower, which include changes to river morphology, a possible fragmentation of the river system and on wildlife.

Key among them are the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and obligations for environmental impact assessments.


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