DOE, NOAA award $5 million for ocean energy projects
By Andrew Nusca
The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday announced eight joint research awards worth almost $5 million to support offshore wind energy and ocean energy projects.
The intent of the funding is to bridge gaps in understanding of the potential environmental effects of renewable ocean energy, in which electricity is generated from waves, tides, currents and thermal gradients. That’s a sound plan for a nation with 12,380 miles of coastline, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Ultimately, the money shows that the DOE and Obama administration seek to invest in a number of different energy technologies with the hope that their sum can diversify the nation’s energy mix with “greener” tech — a path to energy independence and, by extension, national security.
The announcement was made along with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE.
“There are many new and exciting renewable energy opportunities waiting for us in the ocean,” NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement. “These grants will help realize that potential by understanding environmental impacts and incorporating appropriate mitigation measures from the outset.”
Goals of the funding are as follows:
- Reduce the environmental risks and regulatory uncertainties associated with offshore renewable energy deployment.
- Identify and address information gaps that currently limit the development and deployment of these promising offshore renewable energy sources.
- Help support the activities of the new National Ocean Council (established by President Obama on July 19, 2010.)
The projects were solicited through a competitive joint funding process called Broad Agency Announcement. The idea is to align the research portfolios of BOEMRE, DOE and NOAA with national interests.
Here’s a look at each project:
- Bayesian Integration for Marine Spatial Planning and Renewable Energy Siting Parametrix in Auburn, Washington. Use probabilistic statistical methods to evaluate ocean renewable energy siting proposals. Award: $499,000 over two years.
- Characterization & Potential Impacts of Noise Producing Construction & Operation Activities on the Outer Continental Shelf at Cornell University. Evaluate the impact of Offshore Alternative Energy activities on seasonally resident and migratory, acoustically active marine vertebrates. Award: $499,000 over three years.
- Developing Environmental Protocols and Modeling Tools to Support Ocean Renewable Energy and Stewardship at the University of Rhode Island. Develop a conceptual framework and approach for cumulative environmental impact evaluation of offshore renewable energy development. Award: $745,000 over two years.
- Evaluating Acoustic Technologies to Monitor Aquatic Organisms at Renewable Sites at the University of Washington. Evaluate the ability of three active acoustic technologies (echo sounders, multibeam sonar and acoustic camera) to monitor animal densities and distributions at a proposed hydrokinetic site. Award: $746,000 over two years.
- Protocols for Baseline Studies and Monitoring for Ocean Renewable Energy at Pacific Energy Ventures in Portland, Oregon. Develop and evaluate protocol framework, which will outline the criteria and thresholds for collecting data for both baseline and operational monitoring studies for wave, tidal, and offshore wind projects on the U.S. West Coast. Award: $499,000 over two years.
- Renewable Energy Visual Evaluations at the University of Arkansas. Develop a system that will allow a user to design the spatial layout and content of an offshore facility, import and prepare geospatial data, run visual analyses, define environmental conditions and generate realistic visualizations. Award: $497,000 over three years.
- Sub-Seabed Geologic Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Best Management Practices at the University of Texas at Austin. Establish best management practies for U.S. offshore geologic sequestration of carbon. Award: $497,000 over three years.
- Technology Roadmap for Cost Effective, Spatial Resource Assessments for Offshore Renewable Energy at the University of Massachusetts Marine Renewable Energy Center. Develop a technology roadmap for the application of advanced spatial survey technologies, such as buoy-based LIDAR, to monitor offshore wind and hydrokinetic renewable energy resources and facilities. Award: $748,000 over two years.
If nothing more, the awards show the incredible diversity of investment, with universities all over the country receiving funding to pursue advanced research.