Facts and figures

Find out some interesting facts about the oceans and their potential to help meet global energy demand and tackle climate change.

Did you know?
  • The oceans are home to 80% of the world's biodiversity.
     
  • About half of the Earth's population lives in coastal regions.
     
  • The oceans produce more than 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

 

Ocean energy
  • Ocean energy is renewable energy generated by the oceans’ tides, waves, winds, currents and thermal elements.
     
  • The ocean is an enormous and predictable source of renewable energy with the potential to meet a significant percentage of the world’s electricity demand.
     
  • Wind power could meet a quarter of the world’s electricity needs by 2050 if current growth rates continue –requiring an additional 1,000,000 onshore and 100,000 offshore turbines. 
     
  • There is enough wind around Europe’s coasts to power Europe seven times over.
     
  • Europe is the world leader in offshore wind power with a cumulative capacity of 2,063 MW spread across 39 offshore wind farms in nine European countries.
     
  • Offshore wind energy development in the European Union is accelerating and could potentially supply 12-16% of the EU’s electricity by 2030, the equivalent of 25,000 wind turbines covering around 20,000 km² of the European continental shelf.
     
  • Offshore wind farms can benefit local wildlife through the establishment of “no fishing zones” and the creation of artificial reefs where marine species can thrive. But if not properly planned and managed, the installations can harm marine biodiversity.
     
  • The Rance Tidal Power Station in France is the world's first and biggest tidal power station.
     

 

Oil and gas
  • There are around 3.5 million offshore oil and gas rigs worldwide and over 4,500 of them around US coastal waters.
     
  • Depletion of oil and gas fields in the North Sea means that a growing number of platforms will need to be decommissioned. So far, some 130 platforms have already been dismantled and more than 500 others will be decommissioned in the next 20 to 30 years.

 

Oceans and climate change
  • Mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows remove carbon from the atmosphere and lock it into the soil, where it can stay for millennia. These marine ecosystems store huge amounts of “blue carbon” in the sediment below them.
     
  • Current rates of degradation and loss of coastal wetlands are up to four times those of tropical forests. Destruction of about 20% of the world's mangroves, an area of 35,000km2 in the last 25 years (or four times the New York City metropolitan area), has led to the release of centuries of accumulated carbon.  

 

New developments
  • The coverage of Marine Protected Areas has more than doubled in the past four years from an estimated 0.65% of the earth’s surface in 2007 to 1.42% today.
     
  • Marine and freshwater algae has the potential to provide a new range of third generation biofuels, including jet fuels.
     
  • There are numerous examples of proven energy technology inspired by marine species including wave energy harvesters inspired by kelp and tuna and wind turbine design inspired by the fin scallops of the humpback whale.

     

 

Sources: The Energy Report (WWF), European Wind Energy Association, European Ocean Energy Association, European Biofuels Technology Platform