To address the complexity of environmental issues associated with MHK energy, PNNL has received support from the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Waterpower Program to develop research and development that draws on the knowledge of the industry, regulators, and stakeholders. Initial research has focused on 1) the development of a knowledge management database and related environmental risk evaluation system, 2) the use of hydrodynamic models to assess the effects of energy removal on coastal systems, 3) the development of laboratory and mesocosm experiments to evaluate the effects of EMF and noise on representative marine and estuarine species, and 4) collaborative interaction with regulators and other stakeholders to facilitate ocean energy devices, including participation in coastal and marine spatial planning activities.
In this paper, we describe our approach for initial laboratory investigations to evaluate potential environmental effects of EMFs on aquatic resources. Testing will be conducted on species that are a) easily procured and cultured, b) ecologically, commercially, recreationally or culturally valuable, and c) reasonable surrogates for threatened or endangered species. Biological endpoints of interest are those that provide compelling evidence of magnetic field detection and have a nexus to individual, community, or population-level effects. Through laboratory, mesocosm, and limited field testing, we hope to reduce the uncertainly associated with the development of ocean energy resources, and gain regulatory and stakeholder acceptance. We believe this is the best approach for moving the science forward and provides the best opportunity for successfully applying this technology toward meeting our country’s renewable energy needs.