Research, development, and deployment of marine energy technologies for blue economy applications has the potential to expand access to power for remote, coastal, and island communities and improve capabilities to study the ocean. Marine energy and blue economy activities could also share offshore infrastructure and take advantage of the most energetic locations in the ocean.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) national laboratories involved in marine renewable energy R&D under the Powering the Blue Economy (PBE) initiative. Researchers at these laboratories are conducting foundational and innovative research to investigate power needs for blue economy sectors, assess feasibility of marine energy for different applications, and model and develop small-scale marine energy technologies.

Realizing the potential for marine energy in the blue economy involves aligning R&D with the three primary PBE goals:

  1. Understand end-user needs and quantify the value of marine energy in emerging ocean markets uniquely suited to marine energy technology.
  2. Accelerate marine energy technology readiness through near-term opportunities, supporting the Water Power Technologies Office’s marine energy strategy and mission.
  3. Enable broader blue economy goals by developing solutions to meet energy challenges facing private and public sector blue economy partners, including unlocking the potential of new ocean-enabled technologies; enhancing scientific capabilities in the ocean; and developing resilience in remote, coastal, and island communities.
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Collaboration and engagement are central to efforts supporting communities and marine life while sustainably providing power to the blue economy.

U.S. Department of Energy

Research Projects and Activities

Applied & Foundational Research Projects
WPTO funds foundational and applied research projects relevant to Powering the Blue Economy through several different funding programs.
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National Laboratory Research
National laboratories are conducting R&D projects to connect marine renewable energy with blue economy applications. Research projects are applicable to specific blue economy sectors or can lay the foundation for useful blue economy technologies.
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Prizes & Competitions
WPTO leverages prizes and competitions as a unique funding mechanism to coalesce a diverse community of innovators around a challenge.
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Blue Economy Collaborations
Powering blue economy applications requires expertise from many diverse disciplines and sectors. WPTO collaborates with other agencies, research institutions, organizations, and industry leaders to accelerate development of renewable energy technologies.
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Powering the Blue Economy News & Publications