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This project will improve our understanding of how WEC devices will move in the ocean, how a device and an array of devices will affect the ocean wave field, and the forces acting on a device as well as the power capture, variability and efficiency of the WEC. A modeling approach will be used to integrate these components and their feedback mechanisms.
Leverage the existing expertise and knowledge at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), techniques will be developed to synergistically accelerate the development and large-scale deployment of reliable, cost competitive hydrokinetic renewable energy technologies. Using experience developed for the wind industry, NREL will also develop marine hydrodynamic test protocols for marine energy.
NNMREC will develop the Nation’s first Ocean Test Berth (OTB) off the coast of Newport, Oregon. The OTB will provide critical infrastructure required to test and validate WEC devices.
WEC devices must operate reliably and efficiently to be economically viable. The ocean environment is challenging for mechanical and electrical systems. WEC devices must survive high sea states. Marine bio-fouling can greatly reduce efficiency. NNMREC will research survivability strategies such as, slack moorings, mechanical lockup, and underwater immersion or reverse powered operation, depending on the specific device and the expected sea state. Anti-fouling research will be conducted to develop ecologically sensitive, technology suitable techniques for the protection of a general class of ocean energy devices requiring low maintenance.
NNMREC will develop an environmental effects information center to collect and provide access to research and regulations on wave energy conducted worldwide. High priority research will be conducted ranging from site characterization to more detailed research needs. The focus will be on the key “receptors”, or ecosystem components affected by wave energy development, such as marine mammals, seabirds, benthic ecosystems, and fish and fisheries, and on wave energy-specific “stressors” (e.g., physical structure (cables, anchors, buoys, etc.), acoustic noise, electromagnetic effects) impact the key receptors.
Wave forecasting technologies are being developed to enhance the integration of electricity from WEC devices into the electricity grid by providing predictions of the expected wave power at the wave facility. Wave/structure and electromechanical modeling of the WEC will be conducted to produce predictions of the expected power output from an array device.
The Human Dimension of Wave Energy (HDWE) research program was created to provide the opportunity for a cadre of social scientists – professors and graduate students – to study this new use of the ocean space and place. The HDWE focuses on finding answers to a series of human dimension issues and questions: How is wave energy generation off of the Oregon coast being perceived in general? Who are the stakeholders and how are they engaged? Is this activity further defining differences in rural and urban perceptions of the coast and the direction of its economic and social development? Cumulatively how does the human dimension of the wave energy equation impact public perceptions, public policy and the successful adoption of wave energy technology along Oregon’s coast? Who’s responsible for planning and regulating this new use of the ocean? What should the processes be for permitting? What are all of the correct steps that should be followed? Six individual yet interrelated projects under four project areas coordinated their efforts to understand wave energy in terms of the political and regulatory process, and environmental, social and economic sustainability and acceptability.