TODAY’S STUDY: The Potential Power Of The Nation’s Waters
Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology
2016 (U.S. Department of Energy Water Program)
The energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, the natural flow of water in rivers, and marine thermal gradients can be captured to generate new sources of clean and renewable electricity. Although the marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) industry is at a relatively early stage of development compared to other renewable energy technologies (such as wind and solar power), the rivers, coasts, and oceans of the United States represent significant potential as a renewable energy resource. The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum technical resource potential, or electric generation potential, of waves, tides, and ocean and riverine currents in U.S. waters is more than 1,700 terawatt hours per year, almost half of the nation’s total annual electricity usage. Although not all of this resource potential can realistically be developed, the nation’s enormous MHK energy potential still represents major opportunities for new water power development in the United States.
The Water Power Program helps industry develop and optimize MHK technologies that can harness this renewable, emissions-free resource to generate environmentally sustainable and cost-effective electricity. Through support for public, private, and nonprofit efforts, the Water Power Program promotes MHK technology development and testing in laboratory and open water settings, while gathering the operational, environmental, and market data needed to accelerate the responsible deployment and commercialization of MHK technologies. The Water Power Program works to assess the potential extractable energy from domestic water resources and to reduce the resources required for siting MHK power projects in order to assist industry and government in planning for the nation’s energy future. In addition, the Water Power Program recognized a lack of standardized descriptions for the stages of technology development for the wide range of devices and systems within the emerging MHK industry. In FY 2010, the Water Power Program incorporated Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) into the Funding Opportunity Announcement process to enable consistent and uniform discussions regarding MHK technologies.
From FY 2008 to FY 2015, the Water Power Program announced awards totaling about $136 million for 92 projects focused on MHK energy. Table 1 provides a brief description of most of these projects. To control the length of this project report, several older, Congressionally Directed Projects are not included. There are two sources of funding for MHK projects covered in this report: competitive Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), funded by Congressional Appropriations, and Congressionally Directed Projects (CDPs).
Types of Funding Sources a DOE Funding Amounts identified in this table reflect the total DOE funding planned for award to each project for the total period of project performance that may span multiple years. DOE Funding Amounts shown in this table may be subject to change. WWPTO research and development (R&D) projects covered in this report are financed through two primary sources of funding: Congressional Appropriations and Congressionally Directed Projects (CDPs). Congressional Appropriations determine the operating budgets for each EERE office. WWPTO-funded R&D projects are typically awarded to recipients as grants through competitive Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that are dedicated to specific topic areas. CDPs are also funded by Congress, but are outside of the annual federal budget process. Frequently, there is a costshare requirement for recipients of both competitive FOA grants and CDPs.
WWPTO also funds research projects at DOE’s national laboratories through the laboratories’ annual operating plans. This funding is not detailed in this report. However, a national laboratory may be a lead or a partner on a competitively awarded project covered in this report. In these cases, the national laboratory is identified as the lead or partner in the appropriate project descriptions
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, in DOE’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), provides competitive awards-based funding for domestic small businesses engaging in R&D of innovative technology. SBIR and ARPA-E have funded MHK R&D projects; however, these projects are not covered in this report.
Marine and Hydrokinetic Funding Distribution DOE funded 92 MHK projects through the Water Power Program from FY 2008 to FY 2015. These projects are categorized in the following sections by activity area, topic area, geographic region and division, state, recipient type, and funding source.
Funding by Activity Area and Topic Area The Water Power Program’s R&D efforts between FY 2008 and FY 2015 fall under two activity areas: Technology Development and Market Acceleration and Deployment. The Water Power Program’s Technology Development projects are aimed at reducing the technical barriers to MHK device development, improving device reliability and performance, and enhancing the understanding and evaluation of various technology types. The Water Power Program’s Market Acceleration and Deployment projects are aimed at reducing the time and costs associated with siting water power projects; better quantifying the potential magnitude, costs, and benefits of water power generation; and identifying and addressing other barriers to deployment. When total DOE funding for MHK from FY 2008 to FY 2015 is categorized by activity area, technology development activities received over 85% of the funding, while market acceleration activities received approximately 11%.
Funding by Geographic Region & Division MHK projects were awarded in each of the nation’s four geographic regions. Table 3 provides details on how the Water Power Program’s funding was distributed within regions and divisions. The geographic regions and divisions used to present the distribution of WWPTO’s funding are based on the U.S. Census Regions and Divisions.
Eight projects spanned several regions and divisions and are thus categorized as multiregional.
Funding by State Projects in 24 states have received funding for MHK projects through the Water Power Program. Funding awarded to eight projects is disbursed across many states (including Vermont, which is not listed in Table 4) and is categorized as multistate.c Table 4 outlines funding by state.
Combined, Maine, Oregon, and Hawaii received over 30% of total funding for MHK projects. All three states had projects aimed at improving, testing, and demonstrating various MHK technologies that are nearing commercialization, and some of the strongest wave and tidal resource potential in the continental United States also resides off the coasts of these states.
Funding by Recipient Type DOE funds a variety of recipient types, including private industry, nonprofit organizations, universities and community colleges, investor-owned utilities and public utilities, local and state governments, as well as DOE national laboratories, federal agencies, and interstate government agencies.
More than half of the total MHK funding from FY 2008 to FY 2015 was awarded to private industry, and nearly one-third went to universities or colleges. The remaining funds were awarded to public utilities, nonprofit organizations, and local or municipal governments. Exhibit 2 provides these details by recipient type.
From FY 2008 to FY 2015 the Water Power Program issued eleven competitive FOAs focused on MHK. These FOAs provided more than $129 million in announced awards for 84 unique MHK projects. An additional $13 million was awarded to 13 unique MHK projects through Congressionally Directed funds. Although the unique number of awards made by the Program is 106, some projects, where bodies of work overlapped significantly, were combined in Table 1 resulting in an operational total of 92 projects. Exhibit 3 provides details on the funding sources for the Water Power Program’s MHK projects.
The Water Power Program provided about $136 million in funding for MHK projects from FY 2008 to FY 2015, with numerous projects operating over multiple years. The Water Power Program has already realized significant returns on the federal investment to date and anticipates significant key accomplishments in the years to come. A few of the Water Power Program’s project accomplishments include the following:
• In 2013, Dehlsen Associates, LLC fabricated a basin-scale model of the Aquantis C-Plane ocean current device and completed a series of highly successful tow tank tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland. The tests demonstrated static and dynamic stability of the C-Plane in a variety of modes and validated numerical and modeling data, bringing the technology another step closer to commercialization. In 2012, Dehlsen Associates, LLC completed a study that identified regulatory requirements for avoiding sensitive benthic habitat off the coast of southeastern Florida to inform siting of ocean current technologies. Geophysical and benthic habitat surveys were conducted within areas selected by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to inform MHK siting development and to create ocean energy benthic survey methodologies.
• In 2013, Verdant Power, Inc. and Cornell University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the intention of entering into a long-term relationship centered on research and other activities related to MHK technologies. Verdant Power’s MHK project is the first commercially licensed tidal energy plant in the United States. On September 7, 2012, Verdant successfully completed an in-water dynamometry test, with the new rotor performing very well. This project in New York City builds upon an initial DOE investment in 2008 to improve Verdant Power’s turbine blade design. It remains the only project in the world where an array of tidal energy turbines has successfully been deployed and operated.
• In 2012, the Water Power Program completed four assessments of U.S. MHK resources: wave, tidal, river hydrokinetic, and ocean thermal energy. These resource assessments are pivotal to understanding water power’s potential for future electricity production. Based on various resource assessments, the theoretical resource potential for United States wave, tidal, current, and riverine hydrokinetic resources is over 4,000 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/year) and the technical resource potential is estimated to be between 1,286 and 1,787 TWh/year. The wave assessment, completed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), found that 1,170 TWh/year are recoverable, with the West Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii) containing high potential for wave energy development. The tidal assessment, completed by Georgia Tech Research Corporation, found that 249 TWh/year are recoverable, with locations with high kinetic power density scattered along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The river hydrokinetic assessment, also completed by EPRI, found that 120 TWh/year are recoverable, with the Mississippi River containing nearly half of U.S. potential. The ocean thermal energy assessment, completed by Lockheed Martin, found that 576 TWh/year are recoverable in U.S. waters. Additionally, Georgia Tech Research Corporation updated an assessment of U.S. ocean current resources that finished in 2013. The ocean current assessment found that 200 TWh/year are recoverable. The maps of each completed resource assessment are available at: http://energy.gov/eere/water/marine-andhydrokinetic-resource-assessment-and-characterization
• In the spring of 2012, Harris Miller, Miller & Hanson, Inc. (HMMH) completed a project aimed at providing siting information to the Edgartown Tidal Energy Project. HMMH developed a model to predict changes in hydrodynamics and sediment transport due to energy extraction by tidal devices in Muskeget Channel, Massachusetts, and used model results to assess potential changes to benthic habitat. The project also determined the occurrence of protected species in the area to inform monitoring efforts at the proposed project location. These data have been used specifically to inform the Edgartown Tidal Energy Project Draft License application, but the methodology could be used to help other tidal energy projects secure a license.
• In 2012, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) verified the ocean wavelength functionality of the Azura device (previously called WET-NZ) through wave tank testing and a controlled open-sea deployment of its 1:2 scale device. Azura was deployed on August 22, 2012, at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) off the coast of Oregon. As the first developer to test at NNMREC’s offshore mobile ocean test berth, NWEI obtained six weeks of power performance data, as well as installation experience. Next, the device will be tested for one year at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site on Kaneohe Bay in Oahu, Hawaii.
• In 2012, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) successfully deployed the first U.S. commercial tidal project in the United States using its TidGen™ Power System. Bangor Hydro Electric Company verified that electricity was flowing from ORPC’s Cobscook Bay Tidal Project in Maine, marking the first time in U.S. history that such a project was connected to the electric power grid. Due to its success, ORPC was named Emerging Company of the Year in November 2012 by the New England Clean Energy Council. ORPC is currently developing the next generation of their TidGen device using lessons learned from this deployment.
• In September 2012, Vortex Hydro Energy tested the Vortex Induced Vibration Aquatic Clean Energy (VIVACE) converter in Michigan’s St. Clair River. The VIVACE converter is a novel device that generates power on a river bottom by creating vortices as the water flows through it, which makes the device bob up and down (vortexhydroenergy.com/technology/). The VIVACE converter is designed for water currents as slow as 2 knots to 4 knots—a flow range not targeted by conventional turbine technologies.
Technical characterization of resource http://energy.gov/eere/water/marine-and-hydrokinetic-resource-assessment-and-characterization
The Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource report (Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)) assesses ocean wave energy potential along the U.S. coasts. The theoretical resource potential for generation from wave resources is estimated to range between 1,594–2,640 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation from wave resources is estimated to range between 898–1,229 TWh/year. Developing just a small fraction of this resource could allow for millions of American homes to be powered with clean, reliable wave energy.
The Assessment of the Energy Production from Tidal Streams in the United States report (Georgia Tech) assesses the theoretically available energy in the nation's tidal streams. The theoretical resource potential for generation from tidal resources is estimated to be 445 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation is estimated to range between 222–334 TWh/year. Alaska contains the largest number of locations with high kinetic power density. Twelve other states, including all of the West coast and a large portion of the East coast, contain a number of locations with significant kinetic power density. The average tidal stream power density at these locations provides strong signals to tidal energy developers looking to test and deploy their devices.
The Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Ocean Currents along the United States Coastline report (Georgia Tech) assesses the maximum theoretical power resource contained in the ocean currents. The theoretical resource potential for generation from ocean currents resources is estimated to be 200 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation is estimated to range between 45–163 TWh/year. The technical resource potential available for extraction in the Florida Current region of the Gulf Stream is approximately 45 TWh/year of generation. A larger region of the Gulf Stream—within 200 miles of the U.S. coastline from Florida to North Carolina—creates more than 3.5 times the amount of technical resource potential available for extraction (approximately 163 TWh/year of generation).
The Assessment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States report (EPRI) assesses the theoretical and technically recoverable riverine hydrokinetic energy resource—energy extractable from the natural flow of a river without the use of a dam—in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska (tidal waters excluded). Eighty percent of the potential comes from four hydrologic regions: the lower Mississippi (48%), Alaska (17%), the Pacific Northwest (9%), and the Ohio River (6%). The theoretical resource potential for generation from riverine hydrokinetic resources in the continental United States is 1,381 TWh/year. The technical resource potential is 120 TWh/year.
The Ocean Thermal Extractable Energy Visualization report (Lockheed Martin) assesses the maximum amount of energy that can be practicably extracted from the world's ocean thermal resources. This energy uses the temperature difference between the cooler water at the ocean's depths and the warmer, surface water to power an engine that generates electricity. The technical resource potential for electric generation from ocean thermal resources is estimated at 576 TWh/year in U.S. coastal waters (including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).