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Open Access Powering the Blue Economy: Progress Exploring Marine Renewable Energy Integration With Ocean Observations

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.


Marine renewable energy (MRE) encompasses the harvest of energy from the movement of ocean waters in the form of either currents or waves, as well as temperature and salinity differentials. To date, most MRE development has focused on utility-scale electrical grid generation, but a growing body of work focuses on non-grid applications in the blue economy where MRE could provide power on-site and at the scale needed for specific maritime sectors. One of the blue economy sectors with promising applications for MRE is ocean observations using both mobile and stationary platforms. This paper documents the steps and results of engaging with experts across the myriad ocean observation platforms and capabilities to inform five use cases. These use cases include descriptions of specific ocean observation applications performing measurements of high societal value (e.g., data for weather forecasting and tsunami detection) that closely resemble specific sensing systems and, in most cases, are placed in a particular area of the ocean. Rapid resource assessments (i.e., first-order estimates) were performed at these locations to determine the suitability of marine and other renewable energy sources. From the information gathered so far, MRE has significant potential to enable improved ocean observation missions, expand ocean observing capacity, and develop as an industry in parallel with the needs of our changing oceans.

Keywords: marine renewable energy; ocean observations; power at sea; powering the blue economy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2020

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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