The UMass Dartmouth-based New England Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC), and local and regional leaders including Congressman William Keating, marked new milestones in the effort to transform the region into an international hub of ocean-related energy technology research and development at a press conference today.
The press conference preceded the launching of a barge carrying marine energy technology devices to the waters off Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket for testing of their energy producing capabilities and environmental impacts.
Highlights of the press conference included:
-- Partnership with the federal government: Congressman Keating discussed a MREC agreement -- called a "CRADA" -- with the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to apply new national renewable energy industry standards for testing wind, wave and tidal energy devices and infrastructure in waters off Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
-- Studying the impact of wave and tidal energy technology on fishery habitats: UMass Dartmouth Prof. Brian Howes described preliminary findings that wind and tidal devices have little or no negative impact on microzooplankton -- the tiny organisms that anchor the food chain for fish -- but research will continue.
-- Studying wave power potential to reduce beach erosion: Boston-based Resolute Marine Energy is working with MREC to test a wave energy-capturing device that sits in the surf zone but far below the water level. Because extracting energy to create electricity removes power from waves, further testing may determine if devices like these can reduce beach erosion.
-- Demonstrating wave and tidal energy devices: Two marine renewable energy devices were on display at today's event. UMass Dartmouth Prof. Daniel McDonald's device harnesses tidal wave energy on piers. Boston-based Resolute Marine Energy's device uses the motion of waves near shore to generate electricity. Another company, Free Flow Power of Boston, is developing a tidal device to be used in rivers.
-- Developing radar systems to guide wind power development: MREC has now begun testing a new way to use radar to create clean energy more efficiently. Because operating turbines efficiently requires precise, real-time data on wind patterns, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will deploy a new radar station in Madaket on Nantucket. Along with a radar station on Martha's Vineyard, MREC will now be able to measure with greater precision the wind and wave climates 40 miles off the coast.
-- Creating an in-ocean test site: MREC and the Patrick Administration's Energy and Environmental Affairs office are currently working with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on securing a renewable energy research lease that would allow for expanded testing of wind and water power technologies.
"Today's announcements illustrate how UMass Dartmouth's long-term investments in research are starting to pay off for our region and the entire Commonwealth," said Chancellor Divina Grossman. "With our public and private partners, we're proving that marine renewables are good for the environment -- and good for business."
"Through shared priorities and effective collaboration, public and private entities in Massachusetts have demonstrated their commitment to remaining a leader in clean energy investment, research, and development," said Congressman Bill Keating. "And there is still more potential for real federal, regional, industrial, and academic collaboration as well as clean energy jobs on the SouthCoast. I, like the innovators working on this project, want to further wind and water power technologies and I am proud to be a part of a community that is truly committed to reducing its dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels."
"For a region whose economic future has been intertwined with the sea, and a state that's investing in its clean energy future, it is fitting for Massachusetts to be working with so many partners to understand how the sea can again contribute to our environmental and economic goals," said Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia. "As a native son of the South Coast, I'm proud to see so much positive energy focused on offshore energy potential."
To see a video of the event, go to: youtube.com/watch?v=pXjhWSiPaY0&feature;=youtu.be.
"These developments show NOREIZ -- the MREC-operated National Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation Zone -- is becoming a center for testing and innovation of marine renewable energy devices, helping this new industry thrive in New England," said John Miller, executive director of MREC.
More about MREC
The New England MREC is an organization comprised of academia, government agencies, industry, municipalities, public interest groups and concerned individuals. MREC's focus is to foster the sustainable development of ocean based renewable energy: waves, tides, currents and ocean wind. MREC is developing a network of technology developers and energy users who will collectively define the needs of this nascent industry and work to bring together the required technology, capital, infrastructure, human resources to implement ocean renewable energy in the most sustainable manner for the region. Learn more at http://www.mrec.umassd.edu.
More about NREL
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to commercial application. For 35 years, NREL innovations, analysis, and expertise have enabled the emergence of a U.S. clean energy industry and led to numerous success stories from across the laboratory. NREL is a laboratory of the US Department of Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.