Add together tidal, wave and wind and there is an estimated 500 gigawatts (GW) of potential energy available off the coast of New England. That’s a lot of juice and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth has big plans for it.
The university has established the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center and partnered with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to launch the first in-ocean demonstration project of a tidal energy device in Massachusetts. The device, a prototype underwater turbine designed for use in rivers, was lowered into the ocean near Muskeget Channel.
The two groups also have plans to establish a 300-square-mile, first-in-the-nation test site off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The National Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation Zone will be an ocean-based technology incubator site for testing offshore energy devices – such as wind, wave or tidal – that companies hope to bring to market. The site is said to be unique because it offers a variety of ocean characteristics within a relatively small area.
UMass Dartmouth is also conducting a study to determine the infrastructure needed to support a marine-based renewable energy industry. The study will focus on manufacturing, port and workforce impacts and describe the jobs associated with construction, assembly and maintenance of these systems.