Meet the innovator working to develop the ocean energy sector

15 Mar 2023

Britta Schaffmeister. Image: DMEC

Britta Schaffmeister, CEO of the Dutch Marine Energy Centre, discusses the benefits of ocean energy and her role in advancing the sector.

In 2019, Ocean Energy launched the Vi Maris award, which recognises the outstanding contribution of an individual to the ocean energy sector. Its 2022 recipient was Britta Schaffmeister, CEO of the Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC) in the Netherlands.

For six years, Schaffmeister has led DMEC in their efforts to improve the visibility of ocean energy in the Netherlands and unite the Dutch ocean energy sector.

But how did she end up working in marine energy? Schaffmeister says she has always been passionate about the ocean, which resulted in her decision to study marine biology. However, she notes that her experience of working in innovation management – during which time she first worked within the renewable marine energy sector – inspired her to “promote the sustainable use of our oceans, seas and rivers as one of the clean energy transition’s largest untapped resources.”

‘A diverse and secure energy supply is more important than ever, providing the momentum to work together in realising our ambitious climate goals’

The evolution and trends of marine energy

Schaffmeister believes that now more than ever, a diverse and secure energy supply is important for providing momentum to work together to reach climate goals. “The European Commission set clear targets for offshore renewable energy, including 100mw by 2025 for marine energy. For the Netherlands specifically, the ambition is to realise 30mw of marine energy projects in 2025.

“Also worldwide we see a growing support for offshore renewable energy and marine energy, as the G20 recommends to ‘include, as appropriate, offshore renewables in national energy and climate policies’.”

Despite the growing support for this type of energy, Schaffmeister believes that the development of large-scale marine energy projects is “challenging”, both due to the fact that multiple interests converge during development, and because “policies and regulations are not always customised towards innovation”.

However, she says that this is something DMEC is actively addressing, along with working to improve the development of these projects.

As for growing trends in the marine energy sector, Schaffmeister believes that there is a “growing interest from corporations that are looking to integrate marine energy into their business”.

To address this growing interest, the DMEC established a Corporate Partnership Program, which she says “helps corporations to understand the strategic position marine energy can have in their business, gain access to the key public and private actors in the sector and become a key player in the market.”

A wave of benefits

Marine energy offers a broad range of benefits other than renewable energy, according to Schaffmeister.

“By co-locating marine energy with offshore wind, the energy harvested from the same marine space can be increased and the electricity output more balanced,” she said.

“Integrating marine energy innovations in climate adaptive infrastructures offers value by giving them a ‘second purpose’ to generate energy besides coastal protection. These added values of marine energy should be taken into account when setting up business and policy strategies for renewable energy development.”

And what about career highlights? Schaffmeister says that along with the Vi Maris award and the continued work of the DMEC within the marine energy sector, the establishment of the Dutch Marine Energy Community is a highlight.

This group unites technology developers, knowledge institutes, and organisations across offshore energy, delta technology and maritime sectors, and actively works towards scaling up the sector.

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Colin Ryan is a copywriter/copyeditor at Silicon Republic