This paper presents an overview of ocean energy technology as a source of renewable energy for U.S. Federal sites. It investigates ocean energy resources and new technologies under development to capture that energy. These technologies span:
- Wave energy
- Tidal Energy
- Marine current energy
- Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)
A brief history of the technologies is presented, as well as each technology’s commercial market development status. Benefits and barriers to research and development are also examined along with various devices currently being validated in the field.
Significant growth has occurred in the number of devices developed for ocean energy conversion since 2003. Multiple countries are now becoming involved in technology research and development. As many of these technologies near commercial deployment, some governments are proposing market support policies to reduce the current cost gap and help accelerate the rate of commercialization.
Ocean energy resources are significant around the United States. New energy conversion devices could help alleviate U.S. dependency on foreign oil while reducing Federal Government utility costs. Federal sites should take this opportunity to consider ocean energy development to generate renewable energy and help meet Federal mandates, such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007).
In general, Federal research and development funding for ocean energy technologies is increasing. There are several projects being sponsored by the Navy and other Federal entities. Support from national laboratories in testing new devices may help greatly in demonstrating design concepts and reliability of new devices. As long as progress is being made in the development of ocean energy technologies, the increasing trend in Federal expenditures is likely to continue to rise.
At the time of this report, few full scale commercialized ocean energy conversion systems have been tied to the grid. A number of small prototypes are being tested, primarily in wave and marine current technologies, and this number is growing. Technical and financial support from governments across the globe may be crucial in moving new ocean energy technology from prototype to commercially viable product.