Researchers address Challenges to Marine Energy Development: the 2015 Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS)

Submitted by Andrea Copping & Trina Blake on Jul 02, 2015

The third annual Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS) was held in Washington D.C., US April 27-29, 2015, in conjunction with the International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC) and the National Hydropower Association. IMREC and METS brought together scientific and engineering experts, technology developers, policy makers, and regulators from the US and beyond to focus on marine renewable energy technologies, environmental effects, and facilitating advancement of the industry worldwide.

METS provides a venue for scientists and engineers to share and discuss current research efforts on a range of engineering and scientific topics, including how wave and tidal energy technologies may affect the marine environment.

There were eight environmental papers over two sessions that addressed aspects of potential interactions between marine animals and marine energy devices, largely tidal turbines.  All eight papers mentioned the challenges of working in the extreme environments that make for good energy generation sites, and recognized that these studies contribute to the early stages of understanding interactions around marine energy devices.

The need to understand and monitor for potential collisions between marine mammals and tidal blades was addressed by three studies. Booth et al. modeled the interactions of harbor porpoise with the innovative underwater tidal turbine kite built by Monesto in the UK. A new platform for deploying instruments (such as optical video cameras and acoustic devices) to observe potential collisions between marine mammals (and also fish), was presented by Cotter et al.  Copping et al. presented modeling results of the potential consequences of a collision between a marine mammal and a tidal turbine blade.

Five papers reported on studies focused on fish in the vicinity of marine energy devices. Interactions of migratory fish with a small array of tidal turbines in the East River of New York were addressed by Tomichek et al. and Bevelhimer et al. Tomichek et al. collected field data to validate a collision model while Bevelhimer examined approach angles and probabilities of the fish interacting with the turbines.  Shen et al. modeled the passage of fish around and through a tidal turbine deployed in coastal Maine.  Broome et al. reported on identifying habitat use by large fish at a tidal test site in the Bay of Fundy (Canada) by using tags and data telemetry; and Wiesebron et al. discussed acoustic measurements to determine fish densities and variability in a portion of Puget Sound proposed for tidal development.

The 2015 METS event included 49 extended abstracts and presentations that also covered research on:

  • Device modeling of wave energy converters;
  • Modeling of wave energy arrays;
  • Modeling of tidal, river, and ocean current devices;
  • Marine renewable energy test centers;
  • Updates on research related to the US Department of Energy Reference Model project;
  • Marine renewable energy device component design; and
  • Marine renewable energy resource characterization.

All METS extended abstracts were peer reviewed and published online in open-access format. Additionally, the authors of this year’s best METS abstracts have been invited to submit full papers to a special issue of the International Journal of Marine Energy (IJOME).

Marine energy