Environmental Monitoring Technologies for Marine Energy

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Marine renewable energy (MRE) is a broad term for harnessing the power of the oceans, including tides, waves, and river currents, 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 includes providing a site that is permitted for the deployment of environmental monitoring devices as well as vessel and scientific crew support. The expertise and capabilities of the Triton initiative are leveraged for a variety of projects. Triton provides testing and technical support to competitively selected awardees from a DOE funding opportunity announcement (FOA) targeted at improving technical performance while reducing costs of environmental monitoring technologies. Additionally, Triton leads projects focused 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’s aim is to improve the commercially available technologies and streamline the environmental permitting process by better understanding sensitivities and decreasing risk involving interactions with MRE devices.


For the Triton Initiative’s next phase, PNNL is leading Triton Field Trials (TFiT), in which researchers will continue to advance environmental monitoring for marine energy device deployment by delivering common standards and guidelines for data collection and analysis. The intent is to promote data transferability between locations and developments, giving regulators a broader basis for understanding impacts and providing developers with clear methodologies for data collection.


Through these many efforts, Triton facilitates collaboration between industry, academia, and the national laboratories, which allows collaborators to easily share data and ideas, and pioneer solutions to the industry’s most difficult questions.