Environmental Data Management, Cumulative Impacts and Risk Assessment Webinar


Title: Environmental Data Management, Cumulative Impacts and Risk Assessment Webinar
Date: July 27, 2011
16:00-17:30 UTC+00:00
Technology Type:

Webinar #1 in DOE MHK Webinar Series

July 27, 2011



Emerging marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies convert wave, tidal, ocean current, river in-stream, ocean thermal and salinity-gradient power into electricity. These technologies have potential to serve as low-carbon energy sources for many regions of the United States. In order to assure the responsible deployment of these technologies as they are developed, a number of different agencies, federal research institutions, and universities are working to research the potential environmental impacts of MHK technologies. The Department of Energy (DOE) and other federal agencies involved in reviewing, permitting, and regulating MHK are working to coordinate and collaborate on MHK environmental research as well as disseminate resulting products to other labs, federal agencies, industry, and interested stakeholders. This webinar series aims to increase awareness of current research efforts.


Speaker Presentation Materials

  • Introduction to webinar series and specific webinar topic (Anna Coffey, DOE)
  • Knowledge Management System, Tethys, and Environmental Risk Evaluation System (Andrea Copping, Scott Butner, PNNL) - Public, scientific uncertainty regarding the potential environmental risks associated with MHK technologies poses an impediment to widespread commercialization, as well as to pilot and small commercial-scale projects. A lack of at-scale experience with MHK systems in a marine environment leaves uncertainty in public mind. PNNL is working on a risk modeling framework (ERES) which helps to identify and prioritize these risks as a basis for moving forward with MHK development. This is NOT a regulatory tool; rather, it is intended as a basis for stakeholder dialogue about which risks “matter” the most. The knowledge management requirements were created by addressing these risks in a science-based, transparent manner are being addressed through the development of the Tethys knowledge management system, intended to put the information about potential environmental effects into a useful context.
  • The Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (Christine Taylor BOEMRE, Adam Bode NOAA CSC) - The Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (MMC) is an integrated marine information system that provides jurisdictional, legal, physical, ecological, and human use data in a common geographic information. It was designed to specifically support renewable energy siting on the US Outer Continental Shelf but is also being used for other ocean-related efforts, including coastal and marine spatial planning. Via the MMC website, users can access authoritative data and web map services through a spatial data registry, view nationally applicable data through the National viewer, or link to regional map viewers. The site also supports documents/videos, as well as a custom map gallery.
  • International Perspective on Environmental Risks of Wave and Tidal Energy Development (Gareth Davies, Aquatera) - In Orkney, Scotland there is a growing body of actual experience which can now inform decisions about marine energy. This has shown very little interaction with wildlife and the key importance of community relationships. The sensitivities and issues are to some extent universal across boundaries, there are differences, but the tools and findings from one area can greatly help other areas. There are specific tools focused upon understanding the geographical distribution of risks and opportunities which have been successfully used in Scotland and which are now being applied along the west coast of the USA – see Paul’s presentation.
  • Cumulative Impact Assessment and Probabilistic Modeling Tools to Inform MHK Siting (Paul Manson, Parametrix/Aquatera) - Efforts here are to support decisions, not make decisions. The two examples are efforts to show how we can synthesize data, resource information and public values to craft better decisions and to analyze alternative scenarios. CMSP efforts to date have made great efforts in capturing data, sharing data and allowing users to interact with data. Now CMSP needs frameworks for moving data into information for decision makers. The lack of data or uncertainty is not a barrier to decisions, it just must be managed and understood before decisions are made. The data gaps we perceive must be studied in light of the questions we are trying to answer. Sometimes these gaps are critical to our understanding, sometimes they are not. As tools evolve they will need to better capture stakeholder, expert and public perspectives and views. This will allow for making better sense of the policy issues and balance them with the scientific information we have.
  • Conceptual Models of the Impacts of MHK Arrays (Mark Grippo, Ihor Hlohowskyj, ANL) - MHK developments will be conducted under a NEPA framework that will require developers to evaluate ecological impacts of MHK devices. Argonne is conducting a risk assessment as part of a multi-lab effort to identify ecological impacts of MHK devices that will address several regulatory concerns about MHK arrays. Conceptual models are an essential first step in the EPA risk assessment process that Diagrammatic representation of receptor and MHK stressor linkages. Argonne has developed conceptual models illustrating potential direct and indirect impacts to habitat and biota from MHK arrays. Future work will involve determining quantitatively or qualitatively determining risk exposure based on species ecology and life history.

A video recording of the webinar has been posted below:

Note: the following video capture of the webinar omits several minutes of the first presentation, due to technical difficulties. The remaining presentations are captured in their entirety.

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