Event Date:Tuesday, 6 July, 2021
The high-level Innovation Room is designed as a knowledge and matchmaking event, which will bring together a unique mixture of blue economy, industry 4.0 and ocean energy representatives from Europe and small island developing states (SIDS).
It is being organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Small Island Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience Organisation (SIDS DOCK) and the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) as special event of the 2021 Vienna Energy Forum, scheduled to take place from 6 to 7 July 2021.
The event will discuss the role of sustainable ocean energy solutions in the context of blue economy strategies of SIDS. Ocean energy covers a broad range of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions, which are using marine resources and space, or are serving traditional or emerging blue economy sectors (e.g. fisheries and aquaculture, desalination and freshwater production, coastal protection and waste treatment, biotechnology, ocean intelligence and observation, costal and maritime tourism, shipping and ports).
The Innovation Room is being supported by the Governments of Austria, Norway, Spain, and other international partners. Further information will be made available at: www.gn-sec.net.
B. Objectives, added value and follow-up:
The event will discuss sustainable ocean energy options for SIDS in the context of the advancing fourth industrial revolution in the growing field of blue economy. The Innovation Room is part of the UNIDO efforts to reduce knowledge barriers and strengthen capacities of developing countries to adopt new technology solutions within the wider field of industry 4.0. Digitalisation offers the opportunity to improve the productivity and competitiveness of traditional industries and to enter value chains of emerging industries, incl. marine renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleantech.
As concrete outcome of the innovation room, it is intended that the attending Ministers and industry players are launching the Ocean Energy Platform for Blue Economies at the Vienna Energy Forum. The platform will build a bridge between the industry and research players, which need to test new solutions in various climates and contexts, and the interest of coastal developing countries to get access to technology and expertise.
Currently, the exchange on these future-oriented issues is limited. The platform will be hosted by UNIDO in partnership with SIDS DOCK. It will promote north-south and triangular technology cooperation, knowledge sharing and awareness raising, joint project development, capacity building and fund mobilisation. A particular focus will lie on knowledge dissemination and exchange regarding the broad array of marine sustainable energy solutions. The centres of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) will play an important role in the execution of the activities of the platform.
The event and the platform contributes particularly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 7, 9, 13 and 14. Sub-target 14.7 calls international partners to assist SIDS in their blue economy aspirations. The seminar also contributes to the follow-up of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which was held from 26 to 28 November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The discussions will also provide policy input for the formulation of an “inclusive” 2050 Vision of the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition, which was launched in January 2020 under the leadership of Denmark, Norway, and industry players.
The industry future lies within the ocean – The “blue economy” concept seeks to promote economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans, coastal areas and global climate. A blue economy is low-carbon, efficient, and clean. It is also an economy that is based on sharing, circularity, collaboration, solidarity, resilience, opportunity, and interdependence. Already today, the ocean makes a significant contribution to the global economy – over USD 1.5 trillion in value added in 2010. The projections suggest that by 2030 the ocean economy could more than double its contribution to global value added, reaching over USD 3 trillion, and creating approximately 40 million full-time equivalent jobs. The ocean economy represents the sum of the economic activities of emerging ocean-based industries and established ones, together with the goods and services of marine ecosystems. Strong growth is expected in areas such as marine aquaculture, fish processing, ports, costal tourism, shipbuilding and repair. New areas are also desalination, marine biotechnologies, ocean energy and seabed mining.
Striving towards sustainable blue growth – The protection of the ocean health and the greening of ocean or coastal industries (e.g. ecotourism, eco-ports) has become also an important pillar of the blue economy. Unsustainable waste and sanitation practices increasingly undermine the livelihoods, economies and societies of SIDS. Land-based pollution and over-extraction of marine resources has taken its toll on the quality of marine biodiversity and consequent impacts on economies of coastal communities in terms of reduction or loss of fisheries resources and reduction in recreational diving economic opportunities. Coastal areas are being contaminated with solid waste, sewage, industrial effluents, chemical run-off from agriculture, and wastes from the transportation sector (lubricants, coolants, battery acid, tires). Liquid waste such as sewerage and effluents from agricultural run-off are harming coral reefs, and degrading touristic beaches and fisheries, which are major sources of income for many islands. In addition to the pollution, coastal areas are increasingly challenged through the impacts of climate change and extreme weather phenomena.
The blue dimension of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0 technologies are another driver for the uptake of blue economies. It helps to make better and more sustainable use of ocean resources, incl. ocean energy. Artificial intelligence, internet of things, cyber-physical systems, robotics, big data and new visualisation models enhance knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems and their functions and improve the performance of ocean industries. A rapidly proliferating range of advanced sensors - carried by fleets of satellites, ocean-going drones, fishing nets and even surfboards - is producing a flood of new data. New analytical techniques, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, translate this flow of data into streams of understanding, providing powerful new tools for governments and communities to manage ocean resources, incl. ocean energy. New technologies can help Governments better manage their fisheries. Ocean-going drones can cruise the ocean for a year at a time, offering a cost-effective solution for assessing fish stocks and patrolling remote areas. New technology creates new possibilities for small-scale fisheries as well. Smartphone apps can deliver information on weather, fish stocks, and market prices.
Industrial roll-out of blue sustainable energy and climate technologies – Ocean energy and cleantech were identified as important growth areas in blue economy policies and strategies. The preservation of ocean health opens up opportunities for cleantech solutions. A wide range of mature technologies can be used to mitigate GHG emissions and provide public health, environmental protection, and sustainable development co-benefits. For example, waste management and waste to energy solutions can transform waste streams into valuable commodities, mitigate coastal/marine pollution and reduce fossil fuel dependency simultaneously. Modern wastewater treatment and desalination technologies offer similar opportunities. There are vast opportunities in the area of sustainable ocean energy technologies. The wider definition includes an array of renewable energy technologies using non-living marine resources (e.g. wave, tidal, ocean thermal energy conversion, salinity gradients, seawater air conditioning, marine algae and bioenergy) or using marine/coastal space (e.g. off-shore wind, floating PV, hybrids through co-location).
Additionally, the definition includes renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions tailored for industries of the blue economy (e.g. fisheries and aquaculture, desalination and freshwater, biotechnology (pharmaceutics, cosmetics), seawater mining, ocean intelligence and observation, maritime and coastal tourism, coastal business hubs, shipping and port infrastructure/services, waste to energy for coastal protection). Whereas some technologies have already reached the stage of commercialisation (e.g. off-shore wind, floating PV), others are still in the stage of prototyping or demonstration. The latter are mainly funded through R&D grants. However, it is expected, that a broad range of these technologies is becoming commercial within the next ten years. Globally, it is estimated that renewable ocean energy could meet nearly 10% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures under 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. The European ocean energy industry works towards a full industrial-roll out within the next ten years. It is envisaged, that 10% of the electricity demand of the European Union will be covered by renewable ocean energy sources by 2050.
Leave no one behind. Increasingly, SIDS are embracing the expanding blue economy as a mechanism for realising sustainable growth and mitigating local pollution and climate change simultaneously. Endowed with vast ocean territories and exclusive economic zones, these countries and territories have the opportunity to create new income streams and to diversify their economies. The use of marine renewable energy can reduce fossil fuel import dependency and free up scarce foreign exchange reserves for key sectors such as education, health, economic diversification or climate change adaptation.
In addition, it lowers high energy costs for industries and households, representing often a high burden for poorer communities. A broad range of other technologies can contribute to coastal, marine and freshwater protection. However, due to certain limitations, small island and coastal often do not have the capacity to tap into new ocean industries (incl. marine energy and cleantech) or attached industry 4.0 solutions. There are significant barriers in the areas of planning, policy and regulation, knowledge, awareness, human and entrepreneurial capacity, as well as access to technology and finance. Inclusive development requires equal access to digital infrastructure and the benefits of artificial intelligence, internet of things, cyber-physical systems, robotics, big data and visualisation models. Currently, hardly any SIDS takes advantage of its ocean energy potentials. Even fully commercialised technologies are often not available. Since most of the technologies will become commercial throughout the next years, it is important that these countries consider them in blue economy and energy policies.
D. Format and Speakers:
The specific format of the event will be defined at a later stage. It will bring together a number of high-level speakers:
- Ministers and senior policy makers from SIDS and coastal LDCs
- CEOs from industrial companies, technology centres and applied research
- International partners and financiers
E. Organisational Contacts:
Mr. Martin Lugmayr,
Sustainable Energy Expert,
Energy Systems and Infrastructure Divison
Department of Energy
Mr. Al Binger,
Please do not hesitate to contact us through: email@example.com
F. Supporting Partners: