Environmental Monitoring Technologies for Marine Energy
Marine renewable energy (MRE) is a broad term for harnessing the power of the ocean to produce electricity. A key to development and widespread use of this renewable resource is understanding environmental impacts of MRE systems to help streamline permitting processes and progress the industry in an environmentally responsible manner. To address these needs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed the Triton Initiative.
Triton supports development of advanced and cost-effective environmental monitoring technologies for MRE applications. This support includes access to Sequim Bay at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL’s) Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL), a marine testing location that is permitted for the deployment of environmental monitoring devices, as well as vessel and scientific crew support. The Triton Initiative covers a number of activities to develop environmental monitoring technologies. These include access to testing sites and technical expertise to support competitively selected awardees through DOE funding targeted at improving technical performance while reducing costs of environmental monitoring technologies. Specifically, Triton is working with project awardees funded through DOE “funding opportunity announcements” (FOA) to develop innovative designs for monitoring technologies and advance their technical readiness level for in-water deployment. During this process, FOA awardees conduct baseline testing, compare the design to existing technologies, benchmark improvements, and deploy the technology in the water for final demonstration. PNNL supports these projects from the baseline testing phase through measuring and developing improvements before final demonstration.
The Triton portfolio also focuses on building the knowledge base of marine animal interactions with tidal turbines and quantifying environmental impacts of MRE devices. This work is accomplished through the development of data processing algorithms and in-situ observations. Triton aims to support the development of commercially available environmental monitoring technologies, benchmark technological improvement, and streamline the environmental permitting process by better understanding potential risks associated with MRE technologies.
Through PNNL’s Triton Field Trials (TFiT), researchers work to advance environmental monitoring for marine energy device deployment by developing common standards and guidelines for data collection and analysis. TFiT promotes data transferability, which allows regulators to understand impacts on a broader basis and provide developers with clear methodologies for data collection.
With all of these efforts, Triton facilitates collaboration between industry, academia, and the national laboratories. This allows collaborators to easily share data and ideas and pioneer solutions to the industry’s most difficult questions.