Enabling Power at Sea: Opportunities for Expanded Ocean Observations through Marine Renewable Energy Integration Preprint

Rebecca Green, Dale Jenne, Andrea Copping, Robert Cavagnaro, Deborah Rose, Dorian Overhus

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The blue economy is a dynamic and rapidly growing movement that captures the interplay between economic, social, and ecological sustainability of the ocean and encompasses numerous maritime sectors and activities (e.g., commerce and trade; living resources; renewable energy; minerals, materials, and freshwater; and ocean health and data). The demand for ocean data to inform scientific, risk reduction, and national security needs is leading to a large increase in the number of deployed ocean observation and monitoring systems, most of which require increased power. Because ocean observation systems are often placed in remote locations, they primarily rely on energy storage (or in some cases in situ energy generation) to power instruments and equipment, which imposes limits on sampling rates, deployment times, and spatiotemporal resolution of data. The U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office is exploring the potential for marine renewable energy (MRE) devices (largely wave and tidal energy converters) to provide power to support multiple blue economy opportunities. A portion of these opportunities focus on power at sea markets for providing power in off-grid and offshore locations to support a variety of ocean-based activities, including ocean observation and navigation, underwater vehicle charging, marine aquaculture, marine algae farming, and seawater mining. Initially, research has focused on better understanding how and where MRE can provide a consistent source of reliable power to extend ocean observing missions, including operation of autonomous underwater vehicles. Online surveys as well as phone and in-person interviews were conducted with experts in the field of ocean observing systems and observatories to gather end-user requirements, determine energy needs, identify opportunities for codevelopment, and pinpoint constraints for MRE to meet those needs. The surveys and interviews provided feedback on the potential for powering devices and vehicles using MRE, including identifying common themes and challenges that will inform foundational research and development steps needed to advance the integration of MRE with ocean observing systems. In most cases, additional power generation on the order of watts was identified as significantly beneficial to enhancing ocean observations capabilities.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2019
EventOCEANS 2019 - Seattle, Washington
Duration: 27 Oct 201931 Oct 2019


ConferenceOCEANS 2019
CitySeattle, Washington

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5000-76170 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-74459


  • energy
  • integration
  • marine
  • ocean data
  • power


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