MERIC, Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center, was established in Chile thanks to the support of the Ministry of Energy through the CORFO “PROGRAMA DE ATRACCIÓN DE CENTROS DE EXCELENCIA INTERNACIONAL EN I+D” (Attraction program for International R+D Excellence Centers). Currently, the Co-executors of this project are the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the Austral University of Chile, the Inria Chile Foundation, the Chile Foundation and Enel Green Power.
This initiative aims to diversify the energetic matrix and to convert Chile in a world reference in the development of marine renewable energies.
Establish a multidisciplinary and open R & D platform to promote the sustainable development of marine energy through innovative solutions for the subsistence of technology in the extreme conditions of the Chilean seas.
MERIC vision is to be a national and international reference in marine energy applied research, offering global, endurable and sustainable solutions for extreme sea conditions.
MERIC exists under the legal entity of Marine Energy SpA. It is a joint stock company that was set up in Chile by public deed on March 13, 2014 before the notary Mr. Patricio Raby Benavente in Santiago. An excerpt of such deed was registered on page 19934 number 12420 of the Registry of Commerce of Santiago in 2014, and it was published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Chile on March 15th 2014.
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Marine Energy – Chilean Context
The Marine energy, also referred as the energy seas, is a form of renewable energy extracted from the sea, either through the waves, tides, temperature gradients or ocean salinity. The movement of water in the ocean, that comprises both kinetic and potential energy, can be collected to be transform into electricity through technologies that explore the use of this abundant natural resource.
Chile’s more than 6,000 kilometers of coastline, coupled with extreme events such as tsunamis, earthquakes and tidal waves, make the country a unique natural laboratory to study the integration and development of marine energy.
The gravitational pull of the planets over the ocean, and the earth’s rotation, generate what is known as “tides”. They consist of a gradual change in the sea level, having both a maximum and minimum level known as high tide and low tide. This ocean surface gradient produces a current that can be transformed into electricity. One advantage of tidal energy, over other forms of extraction, is its predictable and secure supply, since tides are a well-studied and characterized phenomenon. Areas in, the world that aim to collect tidal energy are those in which the shape of the coastline or bathymetry obstructions produce a strong tidal current. In a simplified way, we could say that when the tidal current faces narrower places it accelerates. In Chile, the Chacao Channel and the Magellan Strait are two clear examples of this phenomenon, which makes them advantageous places for tidal energy extraction