Europe’s global cleantech ambitions are at risk due to weakening competitiveness in ocean energy, according to statistics released by Ocean Energy Europe. The data shows that in 2022, fewer ocean energy projects hit European waters than in any year since 2010.

Meanwhile, global competitors such as the US and China are catching up fast, says Ocean Energy Europe.

Although Europe still holds the lead in terms of cumulative installed wave energy capacity (12.7MW), it is only just ahead of its rivals, the data shows.

The reason for this shift is largely due to public funding and policy support, says Ocean Energy Europe, which notes that the US now commits around $110m to ocean energy annually and is building the world’s largest wave energy test site, while China continues to pour state funds into large projects, and both the UK and Canada are providing dedicated revenue support.

“These statistics should be a wake-up call,” said Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, in a press release. “Europe has the technical skills, entrepreneurialism and creativity to be the world number one in ocean energy – but we need a clear plan. The Net Zero Industry Act should explicitly include the Offshore Strategy’s target of 1GW of ocean energy by 2030. And the Sovereignty Fund should support this target with a €1bn earmarked budget. This will give much-needed teeth to the EU’s offshore renewables ambitions.”

The EU’s 2020 Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy set ambitious deployment targets for 100MW of wave and tidal energy in Europe by 2025, and 1GW by 2030.

“The report’s findings are clear – there is a race for global leadership in ocean energy,” Donagh Cagney, policy director at Ocean Energy Europe, told Energy Monitor. “The EU, the US, China and others want to be the first to harness the last untapped renewable energy source. Having the strongest policy framework will be the key to Europe staying out in front.”