Below is the text version for the video, Technical Assistance: Environmental Effects of Marine Energy. In this video, Molly Grear of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discusses the environmental effects of installing renewable energy systems in the ocean as part of the technical assistance offered through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP).

Text Version

[Music plays, title screen shows “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy: Partnership Project, Technical Assistance”]

[Woman wearing a red shirt and blue cardigan starts speaking]

My name is Molly Grear. I’m an environmental engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Under the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project, or ETIPP, national lab scientists can provide technical assistance to communities interested in energy transitions. One area where we can provide expertise is in understanding the environmental effects of installing renewable energy in the ocean.

While every method of creating energy has some environmental effects, marine renewable energy is a new field, so some of these environmental effects are still partially unknown. Wave devices or tidal turbines are both emerging technologies that harness the motion of waves or the current produced by the tide to create energy.

[Illustration showing the various environmental effects of marine renewable energy toward wildlife, including whales, sea lions, sharks, and crabs]

These devices may have environmental effects, like effects on animals directly from the moving parts of the devices, or from the sounds they make, or the electromagnetic fields they produce.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

Working with many other countries, our team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory releases

[Cover of the “2020 State of the Science Report”]

a report every four years highlighting the “State of the Science” of environmental effects of marine energy development around the world.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

This report summarizes the current state of knowledge about every known environmental effect from wave and tidal energy development.

Since almost all the potential risks can be managed, particularly for small numbers of devices, the PNNL team can help assess any potential environmental risks with the device that your community is interested in installing and discover what the concerns for your community might be. From there, we can advise on plans for monitoring or mitigating any environmental issues.

To give you some examples of projects like this, recently, I evaluated the electromagnetic fields produced by a cable that was designed to mimic the cable transmitting electricity from a tidal turbine.

[Illustration showing the electromagnetic cable in the ocean with sea creatures surrounding it]

I was interested in understanding the magnetic signature of the cable to understand if it might impact animals that are sensitive to electromagnetic fields.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

My team found that the magnetic field from the cable was actually smaller than the changes in the field naturally present in the earth’s magnetic field at that particular site.

On another project, I evaluated if sensitive marine mammal species were likely to be injured from the spinning blades of a tidal turbine and found that in general, the blades moved too slowly to severely injure the local population of killer whales.

Both of these projects are examples of how technical assistance can help communities permit their devices or better understand the potential environmental risks.

Ultimately, ensuring that marine renewable energy installations do not harm the environment safeguards the local ecosystem. We look forward to assisting communities in verifying that your community’s energy resilience pursuits through wave or tidal energy devices don’t decrease ecosystem or economic resilience through adverse effects on the marine environment. Thanks.

[Music plays, title screen with “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy – Partnership Project | Technical Assistance, Office of Strategic Programs| Solar Energy Technologies Office| Water Power Technologies Office | Office of Electricity]