IBM Listens In On Wave-Power Noise Issue

There are myriad environmental issues raised by marine-power development – the group Oregon Anglers outlined more than a dozen when it weighed in [PDF] on a proposed U.S. licensing process for hydrokinetic pilot projects. The good news is that the industry appears to be working to understand and ameliorate one of the key threats – underwater noise – with a new research project in Ireland.

IBM and Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) have teamed up to use “real-time streaming analytics for monitoring underwater noise” generated from wave power devices to help them understand and minimize the environmental impact.

image via IBM/Ocean Energy

IBM said the system will consist of sensing platforms, a communications infrastructure and advanced stream analytics that use cloud computing. The company has already been doing research at the first test site, in Galway Bay, which has been part of a collaboration involving IBM Research and the Marine Institute Ireland to monitor wave conditions, acoustics, marine life and pollution levels in and around the bay.

In addition, “Development of a full scale, grid connected test site on the west coast of Ireland near Belmullet, County Mayo, is under way,” IBM said. “Teams from IBM Research & Development-Ireland and SEAI will work closely with Ireland’s Marine Institute, which is providing extensive technical marine services support at both sites.”

When the system is up and running, it will give researchers “one of the largest continuous collections of underwater acoustic data ever captured,” IBM said. The hope is that scientists and  regulatory agencies can then use the information “to develop standards and reporting, benefitting marine environmental agencies as well as industries including renewable energy, shipping, and offshore oil and gas.”

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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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