U.S. Aims to Reduce Ocean Power Risks

Three federal agencies are jointly pumping $5 million into eight research projects with one thing in common: They’re all intended to help figure out where ocean-based renewable energy projects — including offshore wind power and various ocean-energy forms of power generation, like waves and tides — should be located in order to minimize environmental impacts.

The U.S. Energy Department, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a press release that the “competitively selected, peer-reviewed research projects will identify and address information gaps that currently limit the development and deployment of these promising offshore renewable energy sources.” The trio of agencies said that by working together in handing out the grants they could eliminate research redundancies and encourage sharing of the results.

image via University of Delaware

The largest grant, to the University of Massachusetts Marine Renewable Energy Center in Dartmouth, Mass., doles out $748,000 to develop advanced spatial survey technologies to assess and monitor offshore wind and hydrokinetic resources. Another grant — $499,000 to Cornell University researchers — will look into how the construction and operation noise from offshore projects affects seasonally resident and migratory, acoustically active marine vertebrates.

On the West Coast, the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences is getting $746,000 to test active acoustic technologies for their ability to glean information about animal densities and distributions at a proposed hydrokinetic site. And Portland’s Pacific Energy Ventures is receiving nearly a half-million dollars to basically figure out a process for  “identifying, collecting and comparing environmental data relevant to offshore renewable energy projects.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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