Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC)
MERIC project was initiated by DCNS Energies (Currently Naval Group) and Enel Green Power supported by the Chilean Ministry of Energy, through the government’s economic development organisation CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción). MERIC program is 8-year long supported by a contribution of around 17 million US dollars in cash as well as and in-kind funding, 53% of which will come through cash funding from the Chilean government’s economic development organisation named CORFO.
MERIC is a ground-breaking global centre of marine energy R&D excellence in Chile, that gathers highly motivated people with great experience to support six research projects related to marine energy, in which the research fields are resource assessment, site characterization, bio-fouling, bio-corrosion, technology adaptation to extreme ocean conditions and technology integration to current marine industries.
MERIC has developed as flagship project, the Open Sea Lab, a WEC installed in Las Cruces, that supplies energy to marine sensing instruments around the OPT buoy. This project has reunited and integrated MERIC’s team capacities around the installation and monitoring around this test site.
MERIC experts are developing tools, guidance and capabilities to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of offshore renewable energy technologies to Chile’s unique natural conditions (seismic activity, rugged coastline, a particularly rich and diverse array of marine flora and fauna).
Concurrently, MERIC has examined international experience related to procedures, regulations, and public policies that could be adopted in a Chilean context. Researchers at MERIC are also looking to ensure an appropriate management of social and environmental impacts of marine renewable energy projects, with a focus on community engagement and the development of models and protocols to support the decision-making process.
MERIC during the first 7 years of development, established a national and international reference on marine renewable energy with a consolidated infrastructure and experience which has allowed knowledge to local coastal and marine industries, through applied research, technological development and innovation in all of the sciences areas involved in the exploitation of marine energy resources. Particularly, the Center has been understanding the ecosystem dynamics of the coasts along the country for the adaptation of current MRE technologies to the extreme conditions of Chile and its hazards. MERIC is structured as a hub for innovation in marine energy in Chile and at global level.
Currently, the Center is exploring opportunities to integrate marine energy solutions to the hydrogen industry that is being introduced strongly in the country, mainly in the Magallanes Region, to support the optimization of energy storage and back up processes of producing hydrogen and e-fuels.
The research activities are carried out at:
Marine Research Laboratory of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile ECIM (Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas), located in Las Cruces, Valparaíso region;
laboratory of engineering y biotechnology of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) in Santiago, Metropolitan region;
department of hydraulics and environment of PUC in San Joaquin, Metropolitan region;
department of naval engineering of University Austral of Chile (UACh) in Valdivia, Los Rios region