There have been many attempts to use both wave and tidal energy for at least a century now, however, until recent times, these technologies have remained largely experimental. During the last few months we have seen several ocean energy projects ranging from experimental turbine design tests to full-scale commercial applications. Last week, the Energy Department announced an investment of $16 million for seventeen ocean energy projects.
“Wave and tidal energy represent a large, untapped resource for the United States and responsible development of this clean, renewable energy source is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson.
Tidal and wave energy is a clean, renewable resource that can be harnessed wherever changing tides, waves or currents move a significant volume of water—including off the coasts of many U.S. cities where there is high electricity demand. The Department’s latest nationwide wave and tidal energy resource assessments identify up to 1,400 terawatt hours of potential generation per year. One terawatt-hour of electricity is enough to power 85,000 homes, and developing a small fraction of the available wave and tidal energy resource could allow for millions of American homes to be powered with this clean, reliable form of renewable energy.
Last week, the Energy Department announced about $13.5 million for eight ocean energy projects to help U.S. companies build durable, efficient wave and tidal devices that reduce overall costs and maximize the amount of energy captured. The projects will develop new drivetrain, generator and structural components as well as develop software that predicts ocean conditions and adjusts device settings accordingly to optimize power production.
For example, ABB will develop an affordable, efficient generator that is half the size of a traditional generator, while Ocean Energy USA will develop and test a hull design for a floating wave device. Dehlsen Associates will develop new software for its Centipod wave device to predict future wave conditions and adjust system settings to maximize power output.
As part of the Administration’s commitment to developing America’s vast renewable energy resources responsibly, the Energy Department announced $2.4 million to nine projects that will gather and analyze environmental data from ocean energy projects as well as potential development areas. As this nascent energy industry grows, these projects will help ensure that potential environmental impacts are addressed proactively and that projects can be developed efficiently and responsibly.
Through a broader collaborative effort between the Energy Department and the Department of the Interior to build a sustainable, world-class offshore energy industry, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is providing $300,000 towards these awards.
A full list of the seventeen ocean energy projects that will receive funding from the DOE can be found here (pdf).