Known as the National Ocean Renewable Energy Innovation Zone (NOREIZ), the site will provide a variety of platforms for companies to test and develop marine-related technology designed to capture energy from ocean wind, waves, tides, and current. State and UMass Dartmouth officials completed a memorandum of understanding this week to join forces on an application for federal approval to develop NOREIZ. The only other test bed of this kind is located in Scotland. The Massachusetts application for federal approval is expected to be the first of its kind.
"The research lease agreement we are applying for today complements the Commonwealth's first-in-the-nation Ocean Management Plan, and enhances the ability of Massachusetts overall and the SouthCoast in particular to attract more economic activity associated with developing offshore energy technologies in an environmentally sustainable manner," said Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles.
The goal of the initiative is to attract marine renewable energy companies to Massachusetts to use the test bed to prove the marketability of their technology, then grow their manufacturing businesses along the SouthCoast, which has a talented and innovative marine-related workforce.
UMass President Jack M. Wilson, whose office contributed $160,000 in startup funds to the project, said, "This initiative continues to build upon UMass' leadership in renewable energy. UMass Dartmouth is staking its position in ocean-related energy just as our Amherst campus has done with wind and our Lowell campus has done with solar. Working with state and federal government and private industry, we are building a bright future for Massachusetts."
"This is a major step toward establishing an ocean technology ocean laboratory that will position Massachusetts and the SouthCoast as leaders in the fast-emerging renewable energy sector,'' said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack. "I want to especially thank Secretary Bowles, and Congressmen Delahunt, Frank, and McGovern for their leadership on this effort."
Congressman William Delahunt, whose district includes Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, has been working closely with Congressmen Barney Frank and James McGovern to build support for the project at the federal level. Officials on the islands have also supported the effort.
"Our region is well-positioned to be a center of excellence in the development of renewable energy from the sea," said Congressman Delahunt. "We have the research facilities, skilled labor, and vibrant cluster of marine technology companies to nurture this new industry while creating hundreds of new jobs and business opportunities. I applaud UMass Dartmouth, the Commonwealth and the towns of Nantucket and Edgartown for their help in developing this in-ocean test site and technology incubator. This would not be happening at all without the strong support of Congressmen Frank and McGovern."
"Massachusetts can lead the nation in the development of new offshore energy technologies by creating this in-ocean test site," said Frank. "Having a pre-approved area that companies and universities can use will accelerate the creation of these new technologies and lead to more jobs, especially in the SouthCoast region. The offshore testing site is yet another crucial component of the green energy infrastructure that is being created in the SouthCoast. This site will be a magnet for green businesses, provide new jobs and create the clean energy we need for our environment."
"Creating an in-ocean test site that companies can use to demonstrate new technologies gives Massachusetts a competitive advantage in the clean energy economy," Congressman McGovern said. "As a result, Massachusetts will add jobs and provide more opportunities for our colleges and universities to collaborate on research and workforce development issues in offshore energy."
"We believe in-ocean test locations like NOREIZ are vital to companies like ours that make wind and water power devices," said Stanley Kowalski III, Chairman of FloDesign, a Massachusetts company developing wind turbines three times more efficient than current technologies. "Public support for this site will attract companies and jobs to Massachusetts, and make it easier to commercialize innovative renewable energy technologies."
The initiative is being led by the UMass Dartmouth-based Marine Renewable Energy Center in partnership with other New England universities. MREC recently received a $1.5 million federal grant to assess offshore wind and hydrokinetic renewable energy sources such as waves and tides.
For more information, contact:
John T. Hoey, UMass Dartmouth
Lisa Capone, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Michael Mershon, Press Secretary
Mark Forest, COS