There is an increasing need to reduce carbon emissions and power the nation from clean renewable sources. Ocean energy can help provide part of the solution. Clean, reliable power can be generated by using turbines in the water column to convert tidal currents into electricity. However, the risk to the marine environment and marine organisms is not well known. The tidal power industry, regulators, and stakeholders need guidance to explore the potential contribution tidal power can make to a renewable energy portfolio. In order to appropriately site and operate tidal power installations, we need to better understand the risks of the technology. This workshop will bring together scientific expertise to assess environmental effects on the marine systems in which tidal power may be generated, to determine risks to marine organisms and communities, to determine the uncertainties associated with our knowledge base, and to recommend future research and monitoring needs.
This workshop follows the successful model used to address the environmental effects of wave energy development, held in 2007 in Newport, OR.
The Environmental Effects of Tidal Energy Development workshop will be held on the University of Washington campus in Seattle in March 2010. Attendance at the workshop is by invitation only. The goals of the two-day meeting are to:
Workshop participants will share their understanding of tidal system effects, invoke the latest research
in the area, and contribute to a broad discussion of the potential environmental effects of tidal energy.
Tidal energy is highly predictable and could contribute sizable amounts of renewable power to the
electrical grid in selected parts of the country. Nationally, the US Department of Energy is encouraging the
development of tidal power, alongside other marine renewables. There are currently a number of proposed tidal
energy projects along the US coast. Most projects are pursuing pilot licenses (through the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission or FERC), which allow a site developer to test a limited installation over a period of
approximately five years to gain operational knowledge about the technology and environment. Later, sites may be
developed for commercial scale power generation, if environmental and technical uncertainties can be addressed.
Many stakeholders, regulators and the public are interested in the potential renewable electrical power
that tidal energy can contribute, but express significant concerns about the uncertainties surrounding potential
environmental effects and other impacts. This workshop will take the first step to systematically address the
issues of concern, and will help define a methodology for answering questions about the impact that tidal energy
may have on the marine environment and marine organisms. The workshop presentations and discussions will highlight
knowledge acquired from undersea cable projects and other existing ocean technologies that have established bodies
of literature on environmental impacts, which may be applicable to tidal generation installations.
The use of turbines placed in the water column to generate electricity is very young. European countries
are leading the world in developing and deploying the technology. In the United States there is a single operational
pilot project: a small array of Verdant Power turbines operating in the East
River of New York. Expertise in understanding environmental impacts is still in the formative stages and developing
the scientific capacity to better understand tidal energy's potential environmental impacts is the primary objective of
This workshop is generously supported by:
|Last Updated: 2/3/12||Questions? Contact the Steering Committee|