Marine energy is one component of a broader sustainable solution for powering blue economy markets. It can complement other renewable energy sources and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Marine energy and blue economy markets themselves can also fulfill human needs by providing power to remote communities, creating jobs in ocean sectors, improving capabilities of predicting destructive storms and monitoring ocean health, serving in disaster relief scenarios, and powering food and water production systems.

Marine macroalgae, or seaweed, farming can improve water quality by removing carbon dioxide and nutrients that lead to ocean acidification and poor water quality. Seaweed can be used as a sustainable source of human food, animal feed, crop fertilizer, and biofuels. Seaweed could also potentially be sunk to the bottom of the ocean after harvesting, sequestering carbon. WPTO is funding research at the national laboratories to better understand the energy requirements of seaweed farms and other aquaculture facilities and the locations where marine energy resources could overlap with ocean farms. Researchers are also working to develop marine energy solutions that could power technologies for crop monitoring, processing, and protection.

Many blue economy sectors will be powered with small devices, yet it is still crucial to understand—and mitigate if needed—the impacts of these devices on the environment. To summarize the current state of knowledge on environmental impacts of marine energy technologies, 30 scientists from around the globe reviewed existing data and research. On behalf of WPTO and the International Energy Agency’s Ocean Energy Systems technology collaborative (which includes more than 20 other countries), PNNL released the 2020 State of the Science Report—the most comprehensive report to date on the environmental impacts of marine energy devices. Although more research is needed as technologies and industries advance, the results to date suggest that the impacts of single devices on marine life are potentially minimal.

Otters, the ocean and dolphins.

WPTO’s PBE initiative aims to explore how to sustainably use ocean resources to support the ocean’s life and livelihood, and in turn, how the ocean can support our lives and livelihood.

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