Potential Marine Renewable Energy Research and Development Opportunities at Pacific Marine Energy Center
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This capstone project is closely aligned with the professional goals of the author as an engineer within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technology Office (WPTO). The WPTO has two primary branches, conventional hydropower and marine hydro-kinetics (MHK), which includes energy derived from tidal, wave, ocean current and ocean thermal systems. The author’s responsibilities within the WPTO are primarily focused on managing various MHK projects including the design and construction of Pacific Marine Energy Center - South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS). PMEC-SETS is an open ocean, grid connected wave energy test facility that is currently in the design phase, and scheduled to begin operations off the coast of Newport Oregon in 2021. This project is a collaborative effort amongst Oregon State University, the lead organization, the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the European Marine Energy Centre, and various other industry partners. The Johns Hopkins Energy Policy and Climate Change Master of Science degree program has helped prepare the author for employment with the DOE, and is a good complement to the author’s engineering education. The curriculum focus on energy and environmental policies is particularly useful in understanding the numerous policy challenges faced in obtaining the necessary permits, and gaining concurrence from federal and state regulatory agencies, as well as local stakeholders, to build an offshore energy facility such as PMEC-SETS. If the DOE elects to further develop the testing capabilities at PMEC-SETS, as discussed in this paper, significant effort would be required to work through the potential federal regulatory and local stakeholder issues.