Marine Energy Platform for Study, Demonstration and Training
The New England Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC) is dedicated to the development of sustainable marine renewable energy and has proposed a Northeast Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation Zone (NOREIZ) to provide an area for development of these technologies. NORIEZ is included in the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and will be government by a Board with representatives from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts, with the following objectives:
1) Advance the understanding of ocean resources and their environmental impacts in Atlantic; specific survey information for developers in NOREIZ area.
2) Establish permanent test/development infrastructure for marine renewables (Wind, tide, wave).
3) Develop protocols and procedures for inter-government (Federal/State) and interagency coordination in development marine renewable energy resources.
4) Provide training sites for industry.
In accordance with these objectives, MREC intends to use the NOREIZ as an area for the study of the marine environment and the establishment of permanent test sites. Currently a tidal test site is under development in Muskeget Channel. A test site dedicated to offshore wind in the transition zone (30 – 60 meters depth) is being proposed south of Nantucket and this request is for a research lease to allow the development of this site.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth through MREC as co-applicants with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) for a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) research lease, proposes to establish a permanent Marine Energy Platform for Study, Demonstration and Training (MEP-SDT):
1) Study of the Marine Environment - Similar to the FINO platforms in Germany, the MEP-SDT will provide a venue for monitoring the wind and wave resources, and for long term studies of impacts of platforms on the environment as well as the impact of the marine environment of platform structures. Such “steel in the water” has been stated as an important objective by personnel at the BOEMRE.
2) Demonstration of Marine Energy Technologies – MEP-SDT would provide a node for connectivity of energy conversion devices to the electrical grid. MREC would provide studies and surveys to allow the pre-permitting for wind generator platforms as well as anchoring for floating platforms, and MEP-SDT would be used to closely monitor the deployments of these technologies. In concept this would be similar to the ocean test area being developed by the New and Renewable Energy Center (NaREC) in the United Kingdom., but would provide the potential to site, connect and monitor demonstrations of wave and floating platform wind technologies, as well as platform mounted wind generation. Given depth and anticipated wave energy climate, the floating technologies would likely be a partial scale to final deployment size.
3) Training of Marine Energy Technicians and Engineers – MEP-SDT and other deployed assets will provide training sites for workforce development to support ocean based energy systems.
MEP-SDT and its research area would address these three fundamental objectives of the Northeast Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation Zone (NOREIZ). It would do so in waters adjacent to and typical off large areas currently being addressed by Requests for Information (RFI) by BOEMRE, and therefore would be of direct interest to developers interested in the waters off of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
MEP-SDT would be designed and sited to accomplish these goals. It would initially consist of a research platform with an under sea cable connecting it to a power substation on the shore. The ocean region around the platform would be
surveyed and specific sites designated for demonstration bottom mounted wind platforms or anchors for floating platforms. Accommodations would be made on MEP-SDT for the connection of these demonstration sites to the cable to shore. MEP-SDT would have instrumentation for the monitoring of ocean energy resources and marine environmental conditions, and would provide constant surveillance of demonstrations. MEP-SDT would also be available for support of DOE, BOEMRE, NOP, NOAA, or other studies.
Initial assessments of the MEP-SDT lease area suggest is offers excellent wind resources, and that the site does not have serious conflicts with other ocean uses or that its presence would imperil endangered or protected marine species. The detailed surveys conducted prior to construction as well as the studies conducted on MEP-SDT would determine the actual extent of the platform, demonstrations, and, by extension, deployments on the ocean in this region.
Marine Energy Platform for Study, Demonstration and Training (MEP-SDT)