Assessing Resource Assessment for MRE

Conference Paper

Title: Assessing Resource Assessment for MRE
Publication Date:
December 01, 2010
Conference Name: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting
Conference Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link


Hanson, H.; Bozec, A.; Duerr, A.; Rauchenstein, L. (2010). Assessing Resource Assessment for MRE. Paper Presented at the American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, USA.

The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University is concerned with marine renewable energy (MRE) recovery from the Florida Current using marine hydrokinetic technology and, in the future, from the thermocline in the Florida Straits via ocean thermal energy conversion. Although neither concept is new, technology improvements and the evolution of policy now warrant optimism for the future of these potentially rich resources. In moving toward commercial-scale deployments of energy-generating systems, an important first step is accurate and unembellished assessment of the resource itself. In short, we must ask: how much energy might be available? The answer to this deceptively simple question depends, of course, on the technology itself - system efficiencies, for example - but it also depends on a variety of other limiting factors such as deployment strategies, environmental considerations, and the overall economics of MRE in the context of competing energy resources. While it is universally agreed that MRE development must occur within a framework of environmental stewardship, it is nonetheless inevitable that there will be trade-offs between absolute environmental protection and realizing the benefits of MRE implementation. As with solar-energy and wind-power technologies, MRE technologies interact with the environment in which they are deployed. Ecological, societal, and even physical resource concerns all require investigation and, in some cases, mitigation. Moreover, the converse - how will the environment affect the equipment? - presents technical challenges that have confounded the seagoing community forever. Biofouling, for example, will affect system efficiency and create significant maintenance and operations issues. Because this will also affect the economics of MRE, nonlinear interactions among the limiting factors complicate the overall issue of resource assessment significantly. While MRE technology development is largely an engineering task, resource assessment falls more to the oceanography community. Current and temperature structure measurements, for example, are critical for these efforts. Once again, however, the picture is complicated by the nature of the endeavor: deploying complex equipment of scales of tens of meters into a medium that is traditionally measured on scales of tens of kilometers implies a scale mismatch that must be overcome. The challenge, then, is to develop assessments of the resource on larger scales - so that the potential of the resource may be understood - while characterizing it on very small scales to be able to understand how equipment will be affected. Meeting this challenge will require both funding and time, but it will also result in new oceanographic insight and understanding.

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