A full two-thirds of the world’s population – 4 billion people – live within 400 kilometres of a seacoast. Just over half the world’s population – around 3.2 billion people – occupy a coastal strip 200 kilometres wide (120 miles), representing only 10 per cent of the earth’s land surface. With this population distribution, increasing human numbers and mounting development, the need for sea wave energy for these coastal regions becomes evidently undeniable.
Of Asia’s total population of 4 billion, 60 per cent live within 400 km of a coast. Roughly 1.5 billion live within 100 km of the sea. The population of Latin America and the Caribbean is even more clustered on the coasts. The region’s coastal states have a total population of around 521 million (in 2006); a full three-quarters of them live within 200 kilometres of a coast. Over half of the population of the United States lives within 50 miles of the coast. By the year 2025, nearly 75% of Americans are expected to live in coastal counties.
Among continents, only in Africa do more people live in the interior than along or near ocean coasts. But even in Africa demographic patterns are shifting. Over the past two decades, for example, Africa’s coastal cities, as centres of trade and commerce, have been growing in population by 4 per cent or more a year, as they attract people from the countryside. Cities such as Lagos, Mombassa, Dar es Salaam, Accra, Abidjan, and Dakar have seen their populations expand greatly from in-migration and local population growth. 2
This concentration of people leads to an increased coastal intensity in energy demands. In 2003, over 75% of the global energy mix was produced by coal, oil and gas (International Energy Agency, 2003b). Over the period of 1971-2003 global electricity consumption has tripled. Presently, we are evident to specific increases in oil prices and revival in coal consumption. This is economically driven by reserve production ratios projecting at present rates of consumption, 150 years of coal, 55 years of gas, and 30 years of oil to be left in reserve (BP, 2006). The Global Demand is increasing, and with it CO2 emissions, both are expected to rise by 60% within the next 25 years. Europe imports 50% of its’ energy, and if trends continue will be importing up to 70% within 20-30 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the world is already 0.6 degrees warmer and by the end of the century, global average temperatures will have risen by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees (European Commission, 2006b, European Commission, 2006a).
These problems could be solved through a broad implementation of Wave energy technologies. The world Council estimates that the energy that can be harvested from the world’s oceans is equal to twice the amount of electricity that the world produces now. Such amount of clean, cost-efficient energy will certainly assist the World’s green and economic development.
Only Europe’s accessible wave energy is estimated at 320,00 MW (Sustainable energy Ireland, 2005b). 3
UN Consultant and author
in Tidal Energy Capture”, University of Strathclyde, 2006.