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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DOE, BOEMRE & NOAA Award $5 Million in Grants to 8 Ocean Renewable Energy Research Projects

On October 26, 2010, The Department of Energy (DOE), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), and the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced their joint decision to award nearly $5 million to eight research projects designed to support offshore wind energy facilities and wave, tidal, and currents and thermal gradient energy projects.

The projects were selected following a competitive joint funding process (a "Broad Agency Announcement") and were chosen as part of the Obama administrations' newly created National Ocean Council which was established on July 19, 2010.

The awards were granted to the following projects**:

(1) Parametrix (Auburn, Washington): Bayesian Integration for Marine Spatial Planning and Renewable Energy Siting

This research seeks to apply advanced probabilistic statistical methods to integrate oceanographic, ecological, human use data, stakeholder input, and cumulative impacts for the purpose of evaluating ocean renewable energy siting proposals.
Approximate award amount: $499,000 (over two years); Funding agencies: BOEMRE, DOE, NOAA

(2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Ithaca, NY): Characterization & Potential Impacts of Noise Producing Construction & Operation Activities on the Outer Continental Shelf

This 3 year project, expedited through the Cornell Ornithology Lab's Bioacoustics Research Program, will measure, characterize and evaluate the influences of construction and operation noises from construction and operation and maintenance of offshore renewable energy projects on resident and migratory marine vertebrates. Approximate award amount: $499,000 (over three years); Funding agencies: BOEMRE, NOAA

(3) University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI): Development of Environmental Protocols and Modeling Tools to Support Ocean Renewable Energy and Stewardship

This project intends to develop and test standardized protocols for baseline studies and monitoring of environmental impacts associated with offshore renewable energy projects. Specifically, the URI researchers hope to craft a consistent and reliable (yet flexible) process for conducting environmental impact evaluations for offshore renewable energy projects. The project will be conducted as part of Rhode Island's ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive Special Area Management Plan ("SAMP"). Approximate award amount: $745,000 (over two years); Funding agencies: BOEMRE, DOE, NOAA

(4) University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (Seattle, WA): Evaluating Acoustic Technologies to Monitor Aquatic Organisms at Renewable Sites

This two year research project will evaluate the ability of three classes of active acoustic technologies (echo sounders, multibeam sonar, and acoustic camera) to characterize and monitor animal densities and distributions at a proposed hydrokinetic site, the Snohomish Public Utility District's tidal energy demonstration project. Approximate award amount: $746,000 (over two years); Funding agencies: DOE, BOEMRE, NOAA

(5) Pacific Energy Ventures (Portland, OR): Protocols for Baseline Studies and Monitoring for Ocean Renewable Energy

This two year project will attempt to develop a consistent evaluational and monitoring protocol for considering the environmental impact of offshore renewable projects. The protocol will be consistent with related European programs. Although PEV plans to develop their protocol specifically around west coast marine resources, they hope to create a tool that can be used in other regions and marine ecosystems. Approximate award amount: $499,000 (over two years); Funding agencies: BOEMRE, DOE, NOAA

(6) University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (Fayetteville, AR): Renewable Energy Visual Evaluations

This research project is designed to develop a "Visual Impact Evaluation System" for Offshore Renewable Energy. The proposed system will allow a user to design the spatial layout and content of an offshore facility, import and prepare geospatial data that will affect visibility, run a series of sophisticated visual analyses, define atmospheric, lighting and wave conditions and, finally generate one or a series of realistic visualizations from multiple viewpoints. The system will also accept three-dimensional computer models of facilities submitted by project applicants or available from third parties, and will include pre-built models of many facilities. Output during the two year project will be in the form of maps, tabular reports and high-quality rendered images. Approximate award amount: $497,000 (over three years); Funding agency: BOEMRE

(7) University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (Austin, TX): Sub-Seabed Geologic Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Best Management Practices

This research project will employ existing knowledge and experience with onshore carbon sequestration monitoring and risk assessment, existing and proposed policy (both domestic and international), and international collaboration with groups already conducting offshore carbon dioxide transport and sequestration to compile information needed to establish best management practices for U.S. offshore geologic sequestration. Approximate award amount: $497,000 (over three years); Funding agency: BOEMRE

(8) University of Massachusetts Marine Renewable Energy Center (Dartmouth, MA): Technology Roadmap for Cost Effective, Spatial Resource Assessments for Offshore Renewable Energy

This research project will develop a technology roadmap, using primarily existing data, for the application of advanced spatial survey technologies, such as buoy-based LIDAR, to the assessment and post-development monitoring of offshore wind and hydrokinetic renewable energy resources and facilities. Once the roadmap has been completed, researchers will perform field tests to assess its viability. Approximate award amount: $748,000 (over two years); Funding agencies: BOEMRE, DOE

** These research project descriptions are paraphrased from a DOE press release issued on October 26, 2010.

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