As part of efforts to increase marine energy R&D and bolster testing infrastructure, the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) established four National Marine Energy Centers (NMECs). These centers, located across the country to capitalize on various marine energy resources and regional expertise, provide access to the facilities and experts needed by developers to test and advance marine energy technologies.
To date, WPTO has provided funding to establish and support four NMECs, each with different expertise and attributes specific to their geographic locations. Take a moment to read about each NMEC and the impressive R&D happening at each location.
- Pacific Marine Energy Center (formerly Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center), established in 2008 by the University of Washington, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Hawai’i National Marine Renewable Energy Center, established in 2008 by Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute
- Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, established in 2010 by Florida Atlantic University
- Atlantic Marine Energy Center, established in 2021 by the University of New Hampshire, Lehigh University, Stony Brook University, and the Coastal Studies Institute
Congressional Support for the NMECs
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) support for NMECs traces back to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Section 634: National Marine Renewable Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Centers stated that DOE “will award grants to institutions of higher education (or consortia thereof) for the establishment of one or more National Marine Renewable Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Centers.” As a result, WPTO issued a funding opportunity announcement which established the first three NMECs. In December 2020, WPTO announced the selection for the Atlantic Marine Energy Center (AMEC) as well as several university-led marine energy research projects.
Most recently, Congress provided additional support for the NMECs by directing $40 million to NMEC activities in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and authorizing up to $29 million in funding ($24 for NMECs in general and $5 million for AMEC specifically) toward these centers in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
Over the years, the universities within the NMEC network have become internationally recognized for their marine energy research and testing expertise. The NMECs have also become integral to several WPTO initiatives to provide access to testing and align university-led research with the marine energy industry’s most pressing needs, such as the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program and the University Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC).