23 Nov 2021

‘Oceans for Good’ Infographic for UKRI

The ocean is a great natural resource; it produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. But it’s not just about the beauty and power that we see; our oceans also serve as home to more than half of all life on Earth.

It’ll come as no surprise that climate change poses a significant threat to ocean health. Our oceans have absorbed more than 80% of temperature increases caused by global warming and the consequences of human activity such as overfishing, has had serious impacts in recent years, threatening this amazing habitat and putting marine life in danger. 

Thankfully, the sea itself is part of the solution. The world’s oceans are a life force, a materials provider and have the power to alleviate the energy crisis. In time for post-COP26 conversations on climate targets, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) commissioned us to visualise the power of the ocean. The Oceans For Good infographic highlights the many benefits and resources we can glean from our blue planet.

Oceans for good infographic

The Power of the Ocean

The wonder of the ocean is undeniable and is a force for good when it comes to the low carbon transition. Some of the key statistics highlighted in the infographic include;

  • 8,100 new jobs are expected to be created in Wave Energy by 2040
  • 15% of the UK’s current electricity demand could be delivered by wave energy 
  • 50-60% of the economic benefit of wave energy is expected to be generated in coastal areas, providing jobs and growth for coastal communities
  • 30GW of offshore wind capacity could be installed in the UK by 2030

Aquafuel Ocean Energy: A Cleaner Solution with No Emissions

The oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, making them one of our planet’s largest solar collectors. The ocean is essentially a natural engine that converts this energy into mechanical and thermal energies through constant movement with predictable currents produced by tides or differences in seawater temperature depending on salinity levels found within these waters. Their immense power potential for use as an endless source of fuel.

The world is going green, but can we sail away from oil and coal? The answer may be a resounding “yes.” Ocean-energy technology needs no fuel to produce electricity. Installing these machines will not only continue to produce electricity without pollution for decades but also give an additional boost in other renewable forms such as wind and solar – making our planet cleaner.

Ocean-Energy Technologies

Ocean science has seen progress in recent years with the diversification of new technologies. Wave and tidal turbines are being developed so we can tap into the huge amounts of green electricity stored within our oceans and more efficient thermal generators can convert heat from currents directly into mechanical force through pumps, without producing any waste byproducts.

Wave power alone has an estimated global potential of around 1,000-10,000 GW and the global offshore wind market has grown by nearly 30% each year since 2010.

Marine Aquaculture

The ocean is a vast resource that provides us with many sustainable sources of food. Aquaculture or fish farming, in particular, has increased over 1,000% since the year 2000 and can be conservation’s secret weapon if done right. It can benefit human health as well environmental health when practised responsibly. There’s also research being conducted into plant-based or cell-based seafood products, which may help address the growing demand for fish sustainably without harming our oceans.

Seaweed farming provides a solution to help solve climate change, ensure food security and create ‘blue’ jobs. Seaweed can support up to 150 times more protein per acre than crops such as rice whilst also being rich in minerals. It can absorb carbon dioxide, decrease ocean eutrophication and have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions when used in cattle feed. Sustainable seaweed can lower a cow’s methane production by up to 99%! 

The recent development of 300-tonne mining machines has enabled the harvesting of minerals in some of the darkest depths of the ocean. It has revealed new opportunities for exploration, uncovering parts of the seafloor rich in rare earth elements such as gold, platinum and cobalt, which were previously inaccessible.

‘Blue’ Jobs

The ocean is also an economy-booster and supports the well-being of coastal communities. A huge 2,400 jobs are supported by the UK’s wave and tidal industry sector and £6.1 billion is added to the UK economy by tidal powerhouses in Scotland and the South West. In addition to the ‘blue’ jobs created by seaweed farming, 60 million people are employed worldwide in fishing, with a majority of those working in small-scale operations in developing countries.

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