Marine Energy Industry Sets New Goal of 1GW of Deployments by 2035
Marine Energy Has Potential to Power 220 Million U.S. Homes
VIDEO: Riding Waves, Currents & Tides: Advancements in Marine Energy
Powerhouse: Marine Energy Insights
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About the Marine Energy Industry
Marine energy technologies — powered by water-based renewable resources such as currents, tides, and waves — are undergoing rapid innovation. These technologies will be critical in helping to reach 100% clean energy targets and related climate change goals by 2035.
The National Hydropower Association’s Marine Energy Council (MEC) works with private sector companies, academia, and government partners to:
- Encourage the commercialization of marine energy technologies
- Raise awareness of the industry’s considerable potential to create good paying jobs and to secure an affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly energy future.
Globally available marine energy resources are vast, reliable, predictable, and environmentally friendly. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2050 over 300 gigawatts (GW) of marine energy capacity will be installed globally, resulting in:
- $35 billion of investment
- 680,000 direct jobs created
- Reduction of 500 million tons of CO2 emissions each year
In the United States, demonstration projects and research supported by the U.S. Department of Energy show that marine energy technologies will provide clear and competitive benefits to the electric system and facilitate off-grid “Blue Economy” market opportunities.
Services related to deployment of marine energy technologies – including resource assessments, project feasibility studies, and site selection studies – can be a significant source of economic activity and revenue for U.S. companies
U.S. marine energy resources are significant and geographically diverse. According to the Marine Energy in the United States: An Overview of Opportunities, the fifty-state total technical resource of at least 2,300 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year is equivalent to 57 percent of total electricity generated in 2019.
This does not include the significant potential for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and salinity gradient differentials.
For comparison, total solar generation in 2019 was 103 TWh, 2 percent of all U.S. electricity generation.
KEY Marine Energy Reports
Marine Energy Potential By Resource
The U.S. wave energy resource is large (1,400 TWh/yr), and the vast majority of this energy is delivered directly to the nation’s shorelines where it can be utilized on land. The west coast is a particularly attractive region for wave energy because the resource reaches the shoreline (240 TWh/yr), where it can be readily utilized.
A smaller resource by comparison (220 TWh/yr), tidal energy technologies are — in general — closer to commercialization than wave technologies. It is also a highly predictable form of renewable energy, and many sites are adjacent to markets that could utilize the power available. Tidal energy hot spots are located throughout the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Alaskan coasts. Cook Inlet alone could power much of Alaska.
OCEAN CURRENT ENERGY
At a similar level of commercialization as tidal, ocean current energy (49 TWh/yr) could provide clean reliable power to millions of homes along the southern Atlantic coastline. The Florida Current, part of the Gulf Stream, offers a significant opportunity.
RIVERINE HYDROKINETIC ENERGY
The nation’s free-flowing riverine resource (78.86 TWh/yr) is appealing because it could provide a clean and reliable source of power to communities or other infrastructure along the nation’s river banks and waterways. This is a particularly interesting opportunity for remote Alaskan communities, many of which are located along rivers and typically rely on expensive diesel generators to power their electrical grids.
OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION/SALINITY GRADIENTS
The potential for ocean thermal resources is vast and equivalent to 98 percent of all U.S. electricity generation in 2019.
In October 2020, Verdant Power deployed three of its fifth-generation turbines mounted on a single TriFrame™ in New York City’s East River – a tidal strait. To date, this one-half scale demonstration project has exceeded expectations and generated 210 MWh in the first six months of continuous operation, a record for marine energy production in the United States. Most importantly, the turbines performed at over 99% availability and established a water-to-wire efficiency, including all losses, of 46%.
ORPC’s RivGen® unit installed in the Kvichak River at the remote Village of Igiugig, Alaska, is the longest operating current energy converter in the Americas. A second unit will be installed there this summer. By providing a fully renewable baseload power supply, the community will reduce its diesel consumption by 60 to 90%.
OceanBased Perpetual Energy, in collaboration with the Southeast National Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University, recently completed an ocean current demonstration in the Gulf Stream.
C-Power will be demonstrating its SeaRAY autonomous offshore power system (AOPS) at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii in the summer of 2021. C-Power has initiated commercial launch of the SeaRAY AOPS. The AOPS is an integrated offshore power generation, energy storage, data server, and communications system for support of resident, unmanned mobile and static assets. It provides energy and bidirectional data transfer, which are essential for customers seeking to reduce costs and carbon, improve safety and unlock a wave of innovative capabilities for resident vehicles, sensor packages, operating equipment and vessel charging. The 2021 deployment of a 2 kW AOPS (k2) configuration at WETS will support multiple subsea payloads. The deployment is also part of the US Navy’s Coastal Trident 2021 port and maritime security demonstration program. The k2 AOPS will be followed in early 2022 with a separate k20 AOPS deployment at WETS.
Oscilla Power’s TRITON WEC™ will soon be deployed in Hawaii at the Navy’s Wave Energy Testing Site. Triton is a multi-mode point absorber that consists of a geometrically optimized surface float connected to a ring-shaped, vertically asymmetric heave plate by three taut, flexible tendons. Triton’s surface float can extract energy from ocean waves in all six degrees of freedom (heave, pitch, surge, roll, and yaw) allowing for energy capture across a wider range of ocean conditions.
CalWave successfully commissioned its CalWave x1™ off the coast of San Diego in September 2021. This event marks the beginning of California’s first at-sea, long-duration wave energy pilot operating fully submerged – being tested for six months with the goal of validating the performance and reliability of the system in open ocean.
The x1™ is a scaled-down version of CalWave’s x100™ architecture. The novel architecture operates fully submerged at a range of different water depths and distances to shore, achieving high performance and unlocking the ability to be fully shut down in storm conditions.
This unique approach enables several advantageous operating abilities: It survives stormy seas and extreme conditions, causes no visual impact, and allows for unique control of structural loads by eliminating excessive loads during storms that drive up the cost of systems without substantially contributing to annual energy production.
The National Hydropower Association’s Marine Energy Council (MEC) is the U.S. national trade group dedicated to promoting technologies and related services to harness clean, renewable power from significant untapped marine energy resources.
Established in 2015, the MEC works with private sector companies, academia, and government partners to encourage the commercialization of marine energy technologies and raise awareness of the industry’s considerable potential to create good paying jobs and secure an affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly energy future.
The MEC is actively engaged with federal policymakers to increase R&D support, reduce market barriers, and create financial incentives for technology deployment. The MEC works with its members to inform future federal programs and competitive funding solicitations, lobby for appropriations and legislation in support of the sector, and serve as a clearinghouse of critical information.
A broad and actively engaged membership is key to the MEC’s success.
2022 Council Co-Chairs
- Reenst Lesemann, C-Power (Columbia Power Technologies)
- Paul Gay, SMI, Inc.
- Sam Quinn, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust
2022 Council Vice Chair
John Ferland, ORPC
2022 Council Secretary
Brenda Langley, Oregon State University, Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC)