Highlights from the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference

September 22, 2017

You are here

Representatives of the Energy Department’s Water Power Technologies Office’s (WPTO’s) Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) program attended the 12th annual Ocean Renewable Energy Conference (OREC) in Portland, Oregon, from September 13–14. The conference provided an opportunity for the emerging MHK industry to meet, discuss new concepts and ideas, and learn about critical elements of industry growth, including the development of the Pacific Marine Energy Center-South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS) and alternative markets. OREC also gave the MHK community a chance to engage with WPTO and meet several new staff members.

Throughout the conference, WPTO staff participated on several panels, each with a specific topical focus:

PMEC-SETS: Making the Most of a Regional Asset

WPTO technology manager Steve DeWitt participated in a discussion focused on identifying the core strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) around the PMEC-SETS facility. DeWitt discussed WPTO’s vision of PMEC-SETS becoming a leading wave energy test facility globally. The prepermitted and grid-connected facility will help wave energy converter device developers bridge a major gap to commercialization—access to economical testing.

Experts from the European Marine Energy Center, Oregon State University, Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, and Aquatera Ltd. also provided insight for the SWOT analysis. Input from the audience was also collected, which will help further refine the ongoing process of developing the facility.  

Early-Adopter Markets for Marine Renewables

MHK devices hold much potential for providing power to high-cost, high-value alternative energy markets. Bill McShane, one of WPTO’s MHK technology managers, provided details about fourteen alternative market areas and identified potential pathways for MHK technology applications. Alternative markets include desalination, military uses, and maritime communications equipment.

McShane’s presentation also dived into the Alaskan energy landscape, aquaculture developments in the Pacific Northwest, and the market for cabled seafloor observatories. WPTO intends to engage stakeholders on the issue of alternative markets more in the future. 

The Growing Role of the Department of Defense in Marine Renewables

This panel provided an important opportunity for audience members to learn more about collaborative work conducted within the MHK community between the Energy Department, the Department of Defense (DOD), and academia. WPTO’s Lauren Moraski, an MHK technology manager, addressed some of the most important projects stemming from WPTO and DOD partnerships and emphasized the DOD’s increasing role in the growth of national energy security. The mutual benefit of collaboration between major MHK test facilities such as PMEC-SETS and the Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii was also stressed throughout the session.

Benjamin Mauer from University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory also provided a detailed summary of his lab’s portfolio and contributions to the Navy’s 30-year plan for testing and evaluation. Collaborations enable cross-cutting information sharing, accelerating the pace of technology innovation and revealing new opportunities to drive industry forward. 

The U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) is advancing cutting-edge technology to modernize the U.S. hydropower fleet and drive U.S. leadership in new ocean and river energy, with the goal of delivering low-cost power and resiliency to the nation’s power grids. Subscribe to WPTO’s Breaking News email for important updates.