New Tethys Database Offers Guidance For Responsible Ocean Energy Development

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched an online database containing “results of environmental monitoring and research efforts on wave, tidal, and current energy development worldwide.” Named after the Greek titaness of the ocean, Tethys “will help industry regulators and enrgy project developers deploy sustainable ocean energy projects in an environmentally responsible manner,” according to a DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) news release.

Developed in collaboration with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Ocean Energy Systems Initiative (OES), the Tethys database and an accompanying report bring together the results of worldwide research on the potential environmental impacts and monitoring methods associated with development of ocean energy resources.

Included are real-world data that documents “interactions between wave, tidal, and current devices, marine wildlife, and oceans’ physical systems that will help safely explore and expand the use of clean, renewable energy sources like ocean power.”

Hokusai’s “Great Wave”

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An interactive Tethys map highlights ocean energy environmental monitoring and research projects worldwide; an online research tool that should be of great help for ocean energy policy makers, as well as researchers and project developers. Looking to make Tethys yet more collaborative, comprehensive, up-to-date, and dynamic, the DOE encourages ocean energy and environmental researchers to submit their research results for incorporation into the database.

Tethys’ accompanying report was compiled by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Also contributing substantially in terms of input and funding to the report were partner nations in the IEA’s OES initiative, including Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and South Korea.

Current Ocean Energy Developments

Near some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) recently announced plans to invest some $78 million to expand and outfit the ports of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham to facilitate development of marine tidal power generation systems and renewable marine energy industry facilities.

Across the English Channel, the UK Crown Estate recently released a report estimating that tidal and wave power capacity in the UK amounts to some 153 gigawatts (GW), enough to meet 20% of current electricity demand while significantly reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Funded in part by the DOE, Maine last July became the first US state in which a commercial, grid-connected tidal energy project has been commissioned. Located off the coast of Eastport, developing the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project gave a $14 million boost to the local economy and led to the creation of more than 100 local and supply chain jobs.

Generating enough clean, renewable electrical power to supply more than 1,000 Maine homes and businesses, the electricity generated by the Cobscook Bay pilot project is sold to three investor-owned utilities – Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro Electric, and Maine Public Service Co. – as per the terms of the first-ever long-term marine tidal power purchase agreement (PPA).

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