Electricity generation by tidal current and wave power arrays represents a radical innovation and is confronted by significant technological and financial challenges. Currently, the marine energy sector finds itself in a decisive transition phase having developed full-scale technology demonstrators but still lacking proof of the concept in a commercial project environment. After the decades-long development process with larger than expected setbacks and delays, investors are discouraged because of high capital requirements and the uncertainty of future revenues. In order to de-risk the technology and to accelerate the commercialisation process, we identified stakeholder-wide balanced and realisable strategic targets. The objective is to name the top-level drivers for facilitating technology maturation and thus achieving market acceptance. Our analysis revealed that the two major risks for multi-megawatt projects (funding and device performance) are directly interlinked and that co-ordinated action is required to overcome this circular relationship. As funding is required for improving device performance (and vice-versa), showcasing an “array-scale success” was identified as the interim milestone on the way towards commercial generation. By this game-changing event, both mentioned risk complexes will be simultaneously mitigated. We observed that system dynamics modelling is appropriate for an unbiased analysis of complex multi-level expert interview data. The applied research model was found to be efficient and allows a regular re-assessment of the strategic alignment thus supporting the adaptation to a complex and continuously changing socio-technical environment.
- Marine energy commercialisation
- Strategic drivers
- Investor confidence
- System dynamics