States Take the Lead in Supporting Marine Energy Technology

Author: Jessica Morey, Clean Energy Group | Projects: Clean Energy Innovation, Clean Energy States Alliance

blogphoto-IMG1570

John Miller of the Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC) addressed the crowd. Behind him are Senate President Therese Murray (left) and UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack.

On Monday, August 15th, representatives from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, UMass Dartmouth, Massachusetts senate and the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center, marked the completion of the state’s first in-ocean tidal turbine test. The Muskeget Channel Demonstration Project is a collaboration among Massachusetts state and local governments, universities and companies.

We write about it here to point it out as another example of state leadership in supporting new energy technology industries. This is the kind of leadership that federal officials should more fully support, work with and fund.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) provided a $98,000 grant to support the project, which involves testing of Boston-based Free Flow Power’s underwater turbine technology. The energy from the turbine was captured by energy storage technology developed by another Boston-based clean energy company, FastCap Systems.  Free Flow Power also has a demonstration project underway in the Mississippi River.

As UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said, the demonstration project is “a unique opportunity to demonstrate the capability of Massachusetts and New England as a leader in marine renewable energy development… [it] is an example of the public/private collaboration that is necessary to launch new industries and create new job opportunities… Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to establish a whole new industry with potential to address our energy needs, reduce our carbon footprint, and create thousands of jobs.”

Mass CEC supports these companies, among other clean tech companies, through demonstration grants and venture and growth capital investments.

They are just two of the many companies and researchers working in Massachusetts and New England in a growing “marine energy cluster” – including device developers Resolute Marine Energy and Ocean Renewable Power Company and testing facilities such as Alden Labs.

State support programs, in addition to financing available from MassCEC, include:

  • A lease application to Federal agencies to create a national offshore renewable energy innovation zone, located in federal waters south of Nantucket. The lease would allow state officials to establish a permanent test and demonstration area for energy technologies, as well as study effects on marine life.
  • State lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand state net metering laws to include hydrokinetic technologies.
  • Massachusetts has also developed an Oceans Management Plan, which has helped companies reduce permitting risk and uncertainty by identifying pre-selected development areas.

Other states, including Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Florida and New York are also leading the way in support for marine energy technologies- both to meet their environmental and energy goals and to create jobs and industries in their states.