Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Energy Department Leads International Efforts to Unlock Ocean Energy

September 9, 2016

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The Energy Department's marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) portfolio—commonly known as wave and tidal energy—is one of the more up-and-coming renewable energy sources being explored on an international scale.

The Energy Department's marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) portfolio—commonly known as wave and tidal energy—is one of the more up-and-coming renewable energy sources being explored on an international scale.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) marine and hydrokinetic (MHK)—commonly known as wave and tidal energy—portfolio is one of the more up-and-coming renewable energy sources being explored on an international scale. By developing next-generation technology, creating cross-agency partnerships, and collaborating with international partners, the United States is now seen by many as a global leader in developing marine energy technology, and continues to work directly with the international community to reach multiple renewable energy milestones.

Each year, the United States contributes a chapter into the Ocean Energy Systems (OES) Annual Report, which is released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The 2015 report contains updates from 19 countries on four different continents and notes achievements in the MHK field over the last year, while providing an outlook for the near- and long-term future of the industry. The 2015 report also outlines regulatory and market incentives, research and development highlights, and current updates on technology demonstration projects and planned deployments.

In addition to its representation in the report, U.S. MHK experts regularly attend semi-annual OES Executive Committee meetings. One recommendation that came out of these meetings is that the international MHK community needs jointly developed performance metrics. U.S. MHK experts and Wave Energy Scotland, both of which are working to define these metrics for wave energy devices, co-sponsored an international workshop on wave energy converter technology requirements.

Outside of the collaborations highlighted above, the United States also leads two IEA-OES annexes, which are research groups tasked with tackling specific MHK challenges. These collaborations are titled Annex IV: Assessment of Environmental Effects and Monitoring Efforts for Ocean Wave, Tidal and Current Energy Systems and Annex V: The Exchange and Assessment of Ocean Energy Project Information and Experience.

The Annex IV international collaboration seeks to bring together information and practitioners on environmental effects of ocean wave, tidal, and current energy development. It also aims to facilitate efficient government oversight to ocean energy systems development by expanding baseline knowledge of environmental effects and monitoring methods. As part of Annex IV, the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed the online knowledge management system, Tethys, which broadcasts and archives webinars, expert forums, and workshops focused on issues critical to the siting and permitting of marine energy devices worldwide. The Annex released of their State of the Science report in April this year, and also supports international conferences and events, focusing on new environmental research and data on interactions among marine animals, habitats, and marine energy devices.

Under Annex V, the United States leads the OES member countries in accelerating the development and deployment of ocean energy technology through a multi-country exchange of ocean project experience and information. This allows participants to understand the current state of knowledge in the field and to develop a consistent method of assessing ocean energy devices and systems. The United States has facilitated multiple workshops since 2012 under Annex V. Workshops have been held in Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, and Sweden with topics including open water testing, computational modeling and analysis, design reliability, and ocean energy policies. The Energy Department’s national laboratories hosted a similar type of workshop on extreme conditions modeling in 2014 that led to the creation of a well-informed and planned project.  

Go to water.energy.gov for information on our Water Power Program's funding opportunities that sponsor the development of innovative technologies that generate renewable, environmentally friendly, and cost-competitive electricity from water resources.