Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Development Technical Support and General Environmental Studies


Title: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Development Technical Support and General Environmental Studies
Publication Date:
January 01, 2010
Document Number: PNNL-19081
Pages: 52
Sponsoring Organization:
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Copping, A.; Geerlofs, S. (2010). Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Development Technical Support and General Environmental Studies. Report by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). pp 52.

In response to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Waterpower Program Office developed a program on marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy development. During fiscal year 2009 (FY09) the EERE Waterpower Program provided support to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to enable staff to interact with the MHK industry, regulators, and other stakeholders to learn more about the challenges of accelerating the MHK industry to a sustainable source of energy and to make connections among those groups.

PNNL staff carried out a program of stakeholder outreach during FY09 to accomplish the following:


  • Identify the breadth of individuals and groups with a stake in MHK development to understand which groups have the ability to affect the course and success of MHK industrial development.
  •  Develop an understanding of the key environmental and socioeconomic issues facing MHK development.
  • Identify stakeholders who can provide information about key environmental issues and outcomes of MHK development.
  • Develop and deliver unbiased information about MHK development for the interested public.

Stakeholders were initially identified and contacted informally, and each contact led to others. Conferences and workshops were a rich source of contacts. Using standard outreach techniques, PNNL staff parsed the stakeholders into three groups:


  •  an essential group without whose involvement the industry cannot progress (essential)
  • influential stakeholders who may have an impact on the outcome of a technology, siting or permitting processes, or who have influence over essential players (influential
  • stakeholders interested in the outcome of the MHK industry due to place-based interests or concerns (interested).

Specific activities and products generated during FY09 included


  • a capitalization survey of the largest U.S. MHK companies
  • a survey of the regulatory landscape
  • a modeling report on Tacoma Narrows tidal energy.


Lessons learned from PNNL’s outreach effort include the following:


  • Each stakeholder group has important information to contribute to the understanding of what is needed to develop the MHK industry, in terms of technical perspectives as well as acceleration to market.
  • The MHK industry in the United States and in other countries with active MHK endeavors is an important source of information about the technologies, project proposals, and challenges of developing a sustainable MHK industry.
  • The industry generally has limited insight into regulatory needs for siting and permitting processes.
  • The MHK industry in the United States is severely undercapitalized, which can exacerbate a potential adversarial relationship with regulatory agencies and other stakeholders as they struggle to meet environmental assessment and siting needs.
  • The regulatory community is struggling to develop appropriate regulatory processes and steps to permit MHK devices.
  • Influential stakeholders, including Indian Tribes, major nongovernmental organizations, elected officials, and place-based groups, have little understanding of MHK technologies and limited knowledge of the regulatory environment that will be needed to establish the industry.


Future directions that will help to accelerate the development of a sustainable MHK industry in the United States include the following:


  • a broad-based education and outreach program
  • interaction with individuals in the industry, as well as regulatory and resource management agencies
  • participation in ongoing planning exercises, including coastal and marine spatial planning and regional ocean planning
  • a framework and roadmapping activities that help to organize information.
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