US Senators Team Up on Marine Energy

In an effort to help Ocean State scientists, researchers, and engineers develop new, ocean-based technology, US Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is teaming up with several colleagues on legislation to increase domestic production of low-carbon, renewable energy from the natural power in ocean waves, tides, and currents.

The nation’s oceans represent a major potential source of clean, renewable energy and the Marine Energy Research and Development Act provides federal resources to encourage private investments in renewable energy projects that use the power in oceans to produce electricity.

The power of our oceans – through waves, tides and currents – is still a source of untapped potential when it comes to producing renewable energy. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Marine Energy Research and Development Act, which will support continued research and development into emerging marine energy technologies. This legislation will also help accelerate research here in Rhode Island and fuel sustainable job growth in clean energy,” said Senator Reed.

Americans want cleaner and more affordable electricity fueling their homes, and the dirty energy relics of yesteryear don’t cut it,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the bill’s sponsor. “Harnessing the power of ocean waves, tides and currents will bring us closer to the low-carbon, renewable future desperately needed.”

Other cosponsors of the bill include Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

The Marine Energy Research and Development Act reauthorizes marine renewable energy programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. Those programs include the national marine renewable energy research, development, and demonstration centers found around the country. The legislation also directs the Department of Energy to research ways to build a stable marine energy supply chain in the United States, as well as ways to harmonize marine energy development with ocean navigation, fisheries, and critical infrastructure such as undersea cables.

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Department of Ocean Engineering; Department of Marine Affairs; and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography are recognized as national and international leaders in the field of offshore renewable energy. To date, URI has received nearly $20 million in ocean wind grants. Additionally, Leading Edge, a group of Brown University researchers, together with local engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who are developing an oscillating hydrofoil device for harvesting energy from tidal and riverine flows, received a $3.8 million federal grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). And Rhode Island based companies such as Aquanis, Inc. of East Greenwich are pioneering research into new technological advancements to improve effectiveness, durability, and performance of wind turbine blades. Last year, Senator Reed helped secure a $3.5 million federal grant to allow Aquanis to further research of “Active Aerodynamic Load Control for Wind Turbines.”

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