The marine and hydrokinetic industry, which aims to harness various marine and hydrokinetic resources including ocean waves, tidal streams, river flows, ocean currents and ocean thermal differences for power generation, stands at a critical point. A report from Pike Research says the technologies are improving, major energy companies and utilities are making investments, industry associations are gaining lobbying power, and governments are completing or updating their country-level deployment targets and roadmaps, enacting competitive financial incentives, and (in many cases) garnering public support.

But now the industry must deliver on its promise or risk losing investor interest and political support. Whether the industry can reach the same level of success as other renewable energy sectors such as wind power depends on a host of significant challenges across the technology/policy/finance spectrum — most of which should play out over the next five years. According to the Pike Research report, the marine and hydrokinetic market should see robust growth in capacity in that period, increasing from 760MW in 2012 to 5.5GW in 2017. That will translate into total revenue from hydrokinetic and marine power generation deployed in North America of $161.2 million in 2017, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.