The world’s oceans are the last true wilderness, covering 71% of the planet’s surface, containing over 97% of all water on earth and providing home to over 80% of all known plant and animal species. Terrestrial resources for energy, food and water are under pressure from expanding global population demands so the ocean is increasingly seen as a supplementary resource to meet these needs.
Security of food, energy and other finite resources are driving efforts to exploit the ocean resources in a sustainable way through international and national legislation such as the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable and secure energy generation in the future will come from a mix of terrestrial and ocean sources including nuclear, clean coal, carbon capture and storage technology, and renewable resources. Offshore wind and marine renewable energy including tidal, wave and bioenergy, have the potential to provide a significant, “green” contribution to global power generation. In order for this contribution to be realised a number of key challenges need to be overcome, including design for reliability and cost of effective installation and maintenance, and grid integration.
Mariculture, the farming of aquatic organisms in the marine environment, is increasingly being considered by governments and non-governmental organisations as a potential solution to addressing some of the World’s common and larger societal issues, namely, food security and income generation. Much interest in expanding mariculture has focused on offshore aquaculture. However, the costs of implementing some of the technological specifications to deal with extremes of weather conditions, logistics and safety of personnel currently make this an expensive option, with low margins for profit based on current seafood market prices. Thus it is more likely inshore mariculture will expand faster than the offshore sector. There are many opportunities to examine how mariculture can be developed, especially as co-location options with other sectors such as the renewable energy sector, including the offshore wind industry in those countries where this is being promoted.
The oceans will have a key role to play in the discovery and development of next-generation drugs, bio-products and bio-materials. The key challenges in this area are how to develop strategies for sustainable bio-prospecting and how to scale-up and commercialise production of novel bio-products.
BBSRC, Carbon Trust, EPSRC, EU H2020, KTP, Industry, NERC and TSB.