In order to address the growing global demand for energy, industry is looking to extract energy from renewable sources such as wind, waves, and tides. Yet potential environmental effects must be evaluated and measured to ensure that animals, habitats, and ecosystem functions are not adversely affected, nor that existing ocean and land uses be displaced. The goal of Tethys is to progress industry in an environmentally-responsible manner.
Tethys, named after the Greek titaness of the sea, was developed in 2009 by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to support the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies Office. The primary functions of Tethys are twofold:
- 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 for wind and marine renewable energy practitioners and therefore enhance the connectedness of the renewable energy community as a whole.
The growing body of content in Tethys is actively collected and curated by researchers at PNNL from a variety of sources. Members of the community are also encouraged to contribute to Tethys by identifying documents not yet in the collection.
Tethys supports a growing community of researchers, regulators, and developers through outreach and communication channels including the Tethys Stories, pertinent organizations, databases with similar missions, and broadcasts of presentations, webinars, seminars, and symposia relating to the environmental effects of wind and marine renewable energy. As the Tethys community expands and more users create accounts, each user’s personal interests and areas of expertise may be catalogued upon request to facilitate more communication amongst Tethys community members.
Together with other DOE national laboratories, National Marine Renewable Energy Centers, universities, and industry, Tethys contributes to a program of research and development focused on unraveling the complexity of environmental issues associated with wind and marine renewable energy technologies. Tethys provides a number of ways to sort and search for data, connect with the research community, and learn more about the current status of the industry.
Use of Tethys
Tethys cultivates a collaborative research space for the exchange of technical information on the effects of wind and marine renewable energy devices and their associated components. Tethys has been developed with the following user groups in mind:
- Project Developers can view research findings that will assist with siting renewable projects while minimizing risk to the environment;
- Regulatory Agency Staff will find support for permitting processes and natural resource management decisions to assist with streamlining the permitting process;
- Stakeholders may be interested in the industry or in a proposed project's location and/or associated environmental studies that have been carried out;
- Researchers can easily sift through relevant environmental documents to assist in studies and identify pressing research gaps.
The core of Tethys is a Knowledge Base that draws together metadata, supporting reports, relevant papers, videos, and other material to provide a current state of knowledge of environmental effects. The information provided in the Tethys knowledge base covers four categories:
- Marine renewable energy (or MHK),
- Wind energy (offshore and land-based),
- An international collaboration focused on the environmental effects of marine energy (Annex IV), and
- An international collaboration focused on the environmental effects of wind energy (WREN).
All media are arranged into one large table. The columns can be sorted alphabetically by clicking on each column header, while the results can be filtered by clicking terms on the right or typing search terms into the Text Search. Clicking on a title will open the associated page in a new tab. Click here to access the Tethys Knowledge Base.
The Tethys map viewer shows the location of information and documents that are associated with a geographic location, creating a subset of all the information within Tethys. This allows users to identify projects and studies visually, enabling them to easily associate results to different regions around the world. The information provided in the Tethys map viewer covers three types of media:
- Documents (white bubbles) - Any documents that have a specific location;
- Annex IV Project Sites (orange bubbles) - Metadata about project sites collected from developers and reports, updated on a regular basis;
- Annex IV Research Studies (green bubbles) - Metadata about research studies collected from researchers who are working on or have completed studies.
Markers are initially clustered together in larger blue bubbles that will regroup as the user zooms and pans around the map, and will eventually resolve into a color-coded marker. If one location has multiple pieces of content associated with it, the cluster icon will remain present. Selecting a marker or cluster will expand a bubble with additional details, including a title linked to more information. Content can also be searched with filters such as country, developer, technology type, and keyword searches. Click here to access the Tethys Map Viewer.
Tethys provides information on the environmental effects of the following technologies:
Marine Renewable Energy Development: The act of harnessing naturally occurring renewable energy in the ocean to generate electricity.
- Marine Energy general - Generic term that applies to all forms of renewable energy captured from the marine environment, excluding offshore wind.
- Riverine Energy - The flow of the river is captured with either dams or independent turbines.
- Ocean Current Energy - Capturing oceanic currents with turbines.
- Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion - Utilizing temperature gradients in deep oceans to generate electricity.
- Salinity Gradient - Utilizing salinity gradients where freshwater rivers meet seawater to generate electricity.
- Tidal Energy - Capturing tidal fluctuations with turbines, tidal barrages, or tidal lagoons.
- Wave Energy - Capturing energy from waves with a point absorber buoy, surface attenuator, oscillating water column, or overtopping device.
Wind Energy Development: The act of harnessing naturally occurring wind with turbines.
Advantages to the Tethys Development Platform
Tethys has been developed using Drupal, supporting a “smart” database that has certain advantages over standard databases. Tethys draws on many years of software and systems development from the Knowledge Encapsulation Framework (KEF) at PNNL, allowing users to semantically search and organize data through tagging individual files, documents, and multimedia products. Tethys is monitored and all content is quality assured and curated to ensure that content is current and accurate. Feedback and suggestions from users are actively encouraged; please contact us directly or provide us with your thoughts and input in the suggestion box located in the footer of every page on Tethys. The Tethys team is routinely upgrading functionality and content based on user input.