FAU’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center Celebrates Key Milestone to Establish the World’s First Offshore Test Site to Capture Ocean Current Energy
BOCA RATON, Fla. (August 12, 2013) – Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) has been notified by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that a final Environmental Assessment (EA) with a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) has been published to the Federal Register for SNMREC’s proposed offshore ocean current turbine testing facility. The next step is to negotiate a five-year lease to conduct testing activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
With close to $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Florida and private companies, researchers at FAU’s SNMREC have been working since 2007 to establish the world’s first offshore ocean current turbine test site.
“Environmental, socio-economic and technical factors have all been addressed during the planning process,” said Susan Skemp, SNMREC executive director. “It has been a fulfilling experience to engage a diverse group of disciplines and agencies to help prepare the first environmental assessment of ocean current energy generation.”
The project involves the installation of multiple anchored floating “test berths” to evaluate ocean current turbine designs. Each test berth will consist of a buoy anchored to the sea floor 13 miles (22 km) off Fort Lauderdale, to measure ocean conditions and allow ocean current turbine prototypes to be deployed from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream. The first technology to be tested will be a research turbine designed and built at FAU that will collect unprecedented drive-train performance and reliability data valuable to commercial developers and regulatory agencies alike.
“This initiative demonstrates the multidisciplinary nature of marine renewables research and FAU’s international leadership in the field,” said FAU Acting President Dennis Crudele. “The partners that SNMREC has brought together are looking forward to taking part in the groundbreaking research opportunities enabled by this important regulatory step.”
The SNMREC will perform additional benthic surveys and a final sea trial of the buoy before installing the first test berth in early 2014. FAU’s research turbine is scheduled to be deployed in the Gulf Stream for the first time in mid-2014 after a series of towed tests.
About the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC):
Formerly called the Center for Ocean Energy Technology, the Center was founded with a $5M award from the State of Florida in January 2007, to research, design, develop, implement, and test ocean energy technologies that are cost-competitive with existing power technologies. In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy designated FAU’s Center for Ocean Energy Technology as a national center for ocean energy research and development to advance the operational readiness of ocean energy technologies. The SNMREC is collaborating with industry partners to investigate, refine, fabricate and test promising next-generation water power technologies to harness the ocean’s vast energy potential. The Center’s researchers have already begun this work by deploying ocean current observation systems, establishing research on environmental baselines to determine the level of potential effects, and fabricating support structures for ocean energy devices. The Center will ultimately perform full-scale field testing of prototype devices, an important step toward the successful development of commercial ocean energy generation. As a public institution of higher education, FAU is promoting public awareness of ocean energy research and development, and is developing curricula for the education of a workforce for this new industry. For more information, visit: snmrec.fau.edu.
About the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) :
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy. For more information, visit: www.boem.gov .
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.