Blue Economy

Blue Economy

The oceans are among the most important natural resources for humanity, involving different sectors that range from the most traditional ones, such as the fishing industry and aquaculture, maritime transport, and shipbuilding and port systems, to renewable energy, biotechnology, robotics, and tourism, including exploration and production in oil & gas. A less noticeable aspect, however, is how important oceans are for the global climate, more specifically for the hydrologic cycle and wind circulation in vast continental areas, impacting agriculture, electricity generation, and human settlements, among others that are not necessarily located in the coastal region.

This immense potential is a target of diverging interests, requiring an integrated approach aimed at sustainable development. Blue Economy has established itself in this context, introducing an important conflict of interest. On the one hand, there are matters directly related to economic growth and development, while, on the other hand, there is the need to safeguard and protect ocean resources. Other matters such as sustainable development and issues due to climate change, the latter of which is a progressively more pressing matter, have also established themselves over this fine line.

With the decline of oil as a fuel due to international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the knowledge in deep-sea exploration is gradually being transferred to carbon capture and polymetallic nodule exploration. In coastal waters, including territorial waters and estuarine environments, there are four economic activities that we need to stimulate: aquaculture and algaculture, the modernization of fishing activity, encouraging water sports, and offshore power generation. These are essential activities for generating employment and income. However, some of them require careful planning as they can be quite vulnerable to global climate change.

We will need green ports, as well as vessels and facilities for the installation and maintenance of offshore infrastructure (energy, aquaculture, algaculture, etc.) so that we can successfully implement the aforementioned activities in Brazil. We also need to anticipate the pertinent research in logistics, technology, and environment in our country, in a way that they are included in a new curriculum both in undergraduate and graduate education.

In this context, this is a matter of national security strategy. This is because, in order to protect, monitor, occupy, and explore our EEZ, our country will need vessels and supporting platforms for observation; monitoring techniques; scientific knowledge about the environment; tools for simulating physical, chemical, and geological processes; and the qualification to act properly in the event of environmental incidents at sea.

Renewable Ocean Energy

Renewable ocean sources include resources directly related to seawater, such as waves, tides, ocean currents, and thermal and salinity gradients, as well as other freely occurring ocean resources, such as wind and solar incidence. Research on these sources has great international relevance, as it aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. The main departments that carry out such types of research around the world are the departments of Ocean Engineering with participation from other areas such as Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Meteorology, Oceanography, etc.

An International Energy Agency (IEA) report indicates that almost 20% of the global demand for electricity in 2050 will be met through offshore wind turbines. Furthermore, large-scale oil companies have invested significantly in this area, aiming to generate electricity (and hydrogen) from renewable sources in the ocean while decarbonizing the Oil & Gas sector and international maritime transport. These initiatives include energy transition, decarbonization, and carbon capture.

In Brazil, the extensive coastline length and the vast areas of territorial waters and EEZ are natural conditions that open up plenty of perspectives to use sea resources for energy-related purposes. Recent studies published by PEnO show great potential for offshore wind power, wave power, and thermal gradient on the Brazilian coast. IBAMA has recently received a great demand for environmental licensing, demonstrating a sharp growth trend in this sector in Brazil. This calls for the training of experts and professionals in this area, in addition to innovation through research and development activities.

Activities related to this area began at COPPE in 2001 with the creation of the Group for Renewable Ocean Energy (GERO) associated with PEnO. The demands for education and research are an opportunity to consolidate this emerging multidisciplinary subject.

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