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Quality Digest

Standards

World’s Technical Experts Called To Help Harness Wave and Tidal Energy

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 22:00

(IEC: Geneva) – The International Electrotechnical Commission, the global body for electrical energy standards, is recruiting experts from around the world to develop international standards for wave and tidal energy technology that will help establish this promising source of renewable energy as a competitive form of electrical energy production.

In February 2007, the IEC’s standardization management board (SMB) set up a strategy group to study energy efficiency and renewable energies. In the May edition of IEC’s Technical Committee News, it was reported that the SMB was to decide on how to deal with renewable energy activities in the IEC. At the June SMB meeting a presentation was given by Dr. Gouri Bhuyan, chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Ocean Energy Systems Executive Committee, whose present program focuses on ocean waves and marine currents.

The decision taken by the SMB at that meeting was to set up an entirely new committee, “TC 114: Marine Energy— Wave and Tidal Energy Converters(IEC TC 114),” to develop international standards for wave and tidal energy technology that will help establish this promising source of renewable energy as a competitive form of electrical energy production.

The creation of this new technical committee dealing specifically with the area of renewable energies (RE), follows IEC’s technical committees (TC) already working on water, sun, and wind; hydraulic turbines; solar photovoltaic energy systems; wind turbines and—as an efficient alternative form of energy to work in parallel with RE—fuel cell technologies.

With world production of electricity expected to double over the next quarter-century, renewable energy production is expected to increase by 57 percent. Large-scale use of renewable energy is important for the future to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, to mitigate the effects of global warming, and to raise the living standard of people in developed and developing countries.

According to the International Energy Agency report to the recent G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany: "Accelerated deployment of renewables can significantly reduce CO2 emissions, enhance energy security, and further reduce technology costs.”

It’s expected that the international standards produced by IEC TC 114will support the IEA’s efforts to recommend best practices for the effective network and integration of electricity from wave and tidal energy devices.

Much of renewable energy is an emerging field of research, technology, and manufacturing, and a new industry is growing up. The IEC will help to ensure that, as the technologies mature, the international standards will help to bring down technology costs to make renewable energy increasingly competitive with existing energy alternatives, while ensuring the transfer of expertise from traditional energy systems.

Standards developed by the new grouping of experts will cover the performance of tidal and wave energy converters, how these converters will plug into electricity grid systems, and how they should be tested.

Tidal or ocean energy devices are either floating or fixed and, to generate electrical energy, they tend either to oscillate or to rotate. Research on this technology started in Japan in the 1940s. While there has been limited use since the 1970s, functioning units have been in use in various countries since the 1990s, mostly as prototypes.

IEC’s national committees have until August to let the SMB know that they intend to participate actively as P-members (participating) in the new TC.

For more information, visit www.iec.ch/news_centre/release/nr2007/nr1007.htm.

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