The event was held during Pan American Marine Energy Conference, PAMEC 2020, in San Jose, Costa Rica from 26-28 January. The event was coordinated by the Costarrican Electricity Institute (ICE) and PAMEC association and provided a forum where those at the forefront of technology development in the sector met, interacted, shared their latest knowledge and debated new ideas and issues pertinent to wave, offshore wind, ocean thermal energy conversion, salinity gradient and tidal energy conversion, with a focus on building and strengthening research and development ties in the Americas, and globally.
“The workshop was a great success, not only in raising awareness of the need for and many benefits of marine energy certification through the IECRE System, but in terms of engagement and interest to follow-up in the different countries”, said Peter Scheijgrond who manages the EU MET-CERTIFIED project.
Scheijgrond works with the Dutch Marine Energy Centre which manages the MET-CERTIFIED project. He is Convenor of the IECRE Marine Energy Working Group on Scope of certification, and chairs the Dutch mirror committee to IEC Technical Committee 114, which develops international standards for marine energy, including wave, tidal and other water current converters.
“The results are very encouraging. We’ve had interest from participants representing test and research infrastructure in Costa Rica, Mexico and Chile to become observers or members of IEC TC 114. Furthermore, a US research institute attendee is considering applying for the IEC Young Professionals programme. We also had a suggestion to develop a standard for salinity gradient resource assessment from a Colombian participant, while the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) participant talked about promoting the importance of international certification in future publications”, said Scheijgrond.
The workshop is part of a strategy to build relationships with end-users of certification products and better understand their needs for certification.
One of the specific aims was to increase the participation of Latin American service providers, such as test facilities and certification bodies in IEC and IECRE related activities, through membership or active application of the certification system.
The need for certification
One of the break-out sessions encouraged participants to discuss their work and experience to date in relation to the pros and cons of certifying marine energy equipment and services.
“It was a really useful and fun training. We had two groups to discuss the pros and cons of certification. Despite the cons raised, the overall consensus concluded that certification is not a matter of if but rather when”, said Scheijgrond.
The highlighted pros included:
- Allowance for comparison of devices
- Safer investments for banks making it easier to get funding
- De-risks partnerships around technology development
- Quality assurance from any country
- Enables global trade
- Increases customer/ end user confidence
- Provides baseline for testing, design documents and modelling
- Researchers – baseline for improvement
- Saves developers time and reduces costs
Some of the cons noted were: cost risk, favouring of technologically advanced countries which increases gap between developed/developing countries, lack of consideration for local conditions, no guarantee of financial benefits or loans, and the fact that standards development takes too long and lags behind advances in technology.
Visit to IMARES facilities
Participants visited the state-of-the-art facilities at IMARES (La Unidad de Ingeniería Marítima de Ríos y Estuarios). IMARES research aims to improve the quality of design of coastal works and support the management of marine and coastal ecosystems. It uses an innovative wave tank and wave and currents flume technologies, which cover: determining wave conditions and extraordinary flows, flood zones, erosion danger and sediment transport.
The facilities are well suited for testing models of offshore renewable energy systems, such as (floating) offshore wind turbines, wave energy systems, tidal turbines and offshore floating solar.
An ever-increasing demand for electricity, and the need to reduce fossil fuels power generation, have led to rapid development and growth of the RE sector. IECRE was established in 2014 because of the need to address the specific requirements within this sector, which are not covered by the existing IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.
IECRE aims to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in RE in the marine, solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy sectors, while maintaining the required level of safety.
MET-CERTIFIED is funded by the European Interreg 2 Seas programme for low carbon technologies, and is co-financed by the European Fund for Regional Development (ERFD) for the period September 2016-December 2019. Additionally, the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands, Province of South-Holland and North-Holland and the Belgian Province of West Flanders are offering financial support.
More about PAMEC association
PAMEC association has global membership and supports research and development of renewable energy from the ocean’s tidal currents, waves, ocean thermal current (OTC) salinity gradient (SG), and offshore wind, particularly floating offshore wind in the Americas.