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On June 3rd, 2014 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued the first ever lease to test marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy devices in federal waters to Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Harnessing the power of ocean currents, FAU’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) plans to deploy experimental demonstration devices in an area located approximately 10 to 12 nautical miles from the coast Fort Lauderdale, FL.
FAU plans to install multiple anchored floating test berths that will allow for the evaluation of turbine prototypes designed to harness energy from ocean currents. Each floating test berth will consist of a buoy anchored to the sea floor to measure ocean conditions and will allow for the deployment of turbine prototypes attached to vessels that are strategically moored to the sea floor in the Gulf Stream– a fast moving ocean current that flows along the United States’ east coast. As the initial testing of each device will take place over a period of weeks, industry partners will have the opportunity to evaluate their turbine designs in conjunction with the measurements of ocean conditions throughout the test.
As FAU has been working toward their goal of establishing the country’s first offshore ocean current turbine test site, a milestone was met when an environmental assessment completed by BOEM in 2012 concluded that FAU’s test site would have no significant impact on the local marine ecosystem. Moving forward with turbine testing, BOEM will review an in-depth project plan submitted by FAU.
In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy designated FAU as a National Renewable Energy Center, joining two other NMRECs based in Hawaii and the Northwestern United States. More information about Energy Department MHK research and development efforts can be found on the Water Power Program’s MHK Webpage.
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