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Knowledge Management & Information Sharing

Knowledge Management & Information Sharing

As the MHK community matures and deploys the first generation of projects, researchers generate more information that can serve as a resource to further industry growth. Mechanisms to manage and share this information are needed to reduce duplication of effort and promote learning across the industry.

PNNL plays a key role in this process through the Tethys Knowledge Management System and participation in International Energy Agency Ocean Energy Systems (OES) information sharing activities. In support of the DOE Water Power Technologies Office, PNNL leads the OES Annex IV on environmental data sharing, coordinating communication and information sharing efforts across the 13 Annex IV nations.

Annex IV

Triton Initiative

The MHK industry is relatively new and has faced regulatory challenges associated with potential environmental impacts that are not well understood. Annex IV, a collaborative initiative of the IEA Ocean Energy Systems (OES) under the International Energy Agency Technology Network, is mobilizing information and practitioners from around the world to coordinate research that can progress the industry in an environmentally responsible manner.

The goal of Annex IV is to retire the risk of marine energy technologies, avoid duplication of research and monitoring efforts, promote the sustainable development of marine renewable energy technologies, and ensure accurate and up-to-date information is available to regulators, industry members, and scientists worldwide. A key component of this effort involves making existing information available and accessible.

In January 2010, Annex IV was established by the Ocean Energy Systems to examine environmental effects of marine renewable energy development. The United States leads the Annex IV effort, with the Department of Energy (DOE) as the Operating Agent, partnered with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Annex IV is implemented by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), utilizing Tethys as the platform on which Annex IV activities are coordinated and recorded.

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State of Science

Tethys Knowledge Base

As countries around the world begin to develop MHK projects, active research and monitoring efforts are occurring to evaluate their effects on marine animals and their habitats. Research continues to be compiled to best understand these effects as there is a need to share the data and best practices being made. To address these concerns, Annex IV released a 250 page report authored by researchers from around the world titled "State of the Science Report: Environmental Effects of Marine Energy Development Around the World."

The report summarizes research findings regarding collision of marine animals with turbines; it has been translated into four different languages and is anticipated to help reduce market barriers for widespread MHK deployment. Researchers also looked into the effects of additional underwater noise from turbines and the effects of electromagnetic fields from cables used to carry power. Generally, single devices are not expected to harm aquatic life. Other areas of research include the change of natural flow patterns around devices, the health of seafloor habitats and reefs, and the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. Finally, the report provides four case studies regarding the long permitting and consenting process encountered when installing the first generation of MHK devices, and it provides a path forward for marine energy monitoring and research.

PNNL senior program manager for Marine and Coastal Waters, Andrea Copping, says, "this report represents the most comprehensive collection of our knowledge of potential effects from marine renewable energy development. It will provide technology developers, government regulators, and scientists with greater certainty as we prepare to deploy wave and tidal devices in marine environments."

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As a new technology develops in an increasingly crowded sea, MHK and offshore wind developers must understand the impact of their operations on ocean environments and coastal communities. The ocean is a challenging place to study—particularly the wavy, windy, and high current areas favorable for ocean renewable energy production. As the research community, developers, and regulators slowly gain an understanding of environmental effects through their own individual studies, it's critical that this knowledge be organized, shared, and actively distributed to advance the industry as a whole.

The Tethys knowledge base supports both the DOE Water Power Technologies and Wind Power Technologies Offices to:

  • Facilitate the exchange of information and data on the environmental effects of wind and marine renewable energy technologies; and
  • To serve as a "commons" connecting the community of researchers, regulators, and industry members working on MHK and offshore wind.

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Water Power Research