Triton works with project awardees funded through a DOE funding opportunity announcement (FOA) designed to support the development of innovative monitoring technologies around and advance their technical readiness level for in-water deployment.

This FOA, DE-FOA-0001418 Topic Area 2, was released in March 2016 in response to a DOE-funded workshop, Instrumentation for Monitoring around Marine Renewable Energy Converters (final report). This workshop convened 36 scientists, engineers, and regulators to discuss MRE monitoring requirements and limitations. The outcomes stressed the need to better understand the state of instrumentation and capabilities for monitoring around marine renewable energy devices such as current energy converters (e.g., turbines) and wave energy converters. Additionally, the Ocean Energy Systems (OES), Annex IV 2016 State of Science Report provided key insights on past and current research pathways and the data gaps that needed to be filled with new investigations. Subsequent recommendations for research funding were proposed.

Scientists on a boat with nets
Animal Interaction
Scientists on a boat with lowering buoy
Examples of Completed Projects

This FOA supports seven projects focused on underwater noise, electromagnetic field measurements, studies of marine organism interaction, benthic habitat mapping techniques, and integrated sensor packages to improve our understanding and environmental monitoring of MRE devices.The projects include:

  • DE-EE0007822: Integral NoiseSpotter
  • DE-EE0007823: University of Washington Drifting Acoustic Instrumentation SYstem (DAISY)
  • DE-EE0007824: BioSonics Inc.
  • DE-EE0007825: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution EMF Detection
  • DE-EE0007826: Integral Benthic Habitat Mapping
  • DE-EE0007827: University of Washington’s 3rd Generation Adaptable Monitoring Package (3G-AMP)
  • DE-EE0007828: Florida Atlantic University Unobtrusive Multi-Static LiDAR Imager (UMSLI)

PNNL provides facility and technical support for each of these FOA projects during baseline testing, benchmarking improvements, and testing and development before final demonstration. Staff at PNNL offer diverse technical expertise, including fisheries biologists, engineers, modelers, oceanographers, electricians, data scientists, scientific divers, and more. MSL’s team of experienced field scientists offers support on and offshore to aid in setup and deployment. MSL has a fleet of vessels for projects to utilize, permitted testing areas, and laboratories to aid in the development of technologies prior to field deployment. MSL facilities allow wireless data transmission to shore and data backup storage.  Projects have access to several instruments, including an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), EMF simulations, sound simulations, and JSATS tagging technology.

PNNL’s facilities and expertise are uniquely suited to conduct research that address key concerns related to risk and a need for monitoring, such as fish collision. In addition to the FOA project, Triton supports the Fish Mesocosm Study and the Igiugig Fish Video Analysis project, which are both PNNL-led studies dedicated to understanding fish behavior and collision risk around tidal turbines.

Next Steps

As the technical readiness level for each project advances, the technologies are deployed at a higher-energy testing environment. This last stage will help demonstrate the instruments’ capabilities in pre-permitted, grid-connected environments around  energy converters.

The Hawai’i Wave Energy Test Site (WETS), on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawai’I, will host six technologies in 2020 including the 3G-AMP, DAISY, NoiseSpotter, EMF sensors, BioSonics, and UMSLI. In July 2019 the Integral Habitat Mapping technology completed testing at the proposed PacWave South site off the coast of Oregon. Both are unique locations for advanced in-water testing of MRE and associated environmental monitoring devices. Additionally, the sites are fit with oceanographic instruments that provide wave and ocean current data during testing. This deployment phase puts several years of work and improvements to the test in a realistic environment.



Triton Field Trials (TFiT)

Triton Field Trials (TFiT) further works toward the goal of advancing knowledge around impacts of MRE devices and improving environmental monitoring procedures and technologies. TFiT is a PNNL-led continuation of Triton designed to advance environmental monitoring for marine energy device deployment by developing guidelines for collecting and analyzing data. This task involves identifying the main environmental stressors associated with MRE, determining the best methods and technologies used to monitor those stressors, and deploying those techniques at real sites to define standards.

Researchers first determined the main environmental concerns for all types of marine energy development (i.e., wave, tidal, and river) to include collision risk, underwater noise, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), changes in habitat, displacement of marine mammal populations, and changes in the physical environment.  To determine the current standard measurement techniques and the effectiveness of those methods based on previous applications, an initial review was carried out to identify sensors and research methods used by 119 marine energy projects around the world. Subject matter experts will be consulted on the effectiveness and feasibility for each method and technology in a literature review. The approaches and technologies deemed most successful will then be put to the test at several field sites in diverse conditions around the Pacific Northwest.

The TFiT team has identified sites with diverse physical and biological characteristics representing environments and conditions suitable for wave, tidal, and riverine systems. Sites were selected based on a set of parameters including the energy resource at the site (i.e., tidal, in-river, or wave), how accessible the site is, what other users are in the area, permit status, if threatened species are native to the area, and if there are known physical and biological characteristics from previous research or baseline datasets. Testing environmental monitoring methods at these sites will help researchers establish the most effective approaches for different settings and scenarios to standardize techniques where possible.