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Facility at Florida university designated national marine energy center

The U.S. Department of Energy has designated the Center for Ocean Energy Technology at Florida Atlantic University a national center for ocean energy research and development, naming it the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, FAU announced.

DOE will provide funding to the SNMREC to perform research and development on ocean current energy technology and ocean thermal energy technology, with a particular view toward placing systems in the Florida Straits and the Gulf Stream, which is close to where the center is located.

The SNMREC will collaborate with industry partners to investigate, refine, fabricate and test promising next-generation waterpower technologies to harness the ocean's energy potential. The new SNMREC is the third national ocean energy research center – the others are located in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

"This is a very proud day for our university, our state and the nation,” FAU President Mary Jane Saunders stated in a press release. “This prestigious, national designation of our Center for Ocean Energy Technology is a testimony to the expertise of our researchers and staff and their commitment to provide a viable source of clean, renewable energy for Florida citizens and beyond.”

Researchers at the center have begun this work by deploying ocean current observation systems, establishing research on environmental baselines to determine the level of potential effects and initiating the fabrication of support structures for ocean energy devices, according the announcement. The center will ultimately perform full-scale field-testing of prototype devices.

Because it is a public institution, general outreach and education of the public at large about ocean renewable energy will also be a focus of the SNMREC, as will developing curricula for the education of a workforce for this new industry.

In other news, plans are under way in Louisiana for establishing the RiverSphere project, which is a center for development of hydrokinetic turbines that could be used to generate hydroelectric power from the Mississippi and other rivers. The center will be developed with the help of a recently-awarded $3 million federal stimulus grant.

Tulane University is guiding the RiverSphere project in Louisiana, which university officials said could help to advance the science of hydrokinetic power.

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