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Ocean Policy Task Force releases recommendations

The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force offers four main recommendations for enhancing the ability of the U.S. to maintain healthy, resilient, and sustainable ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes resources.

President Obama formed the task force in June 2009 to better meet our nation's stewardship responsibilities for the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. The task force, led by the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, is composed of 24 senior-level officials from executive departments, agencies, and offices across the federal government.

To develop its recommendations, the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force reviewed federal, state, and foreign policies and models; past and pending legislation; the recommendations contained in two earlier Ocean Commissions reports; and public comments. The task force also initiated a public engagement process to receive input from diverse voices across the U.S. The Council on Environmental Quality hosted 38 expert roundtables to hear from a broad range of stakeholder groups. And the task force hosted six regional public meetings and created a website to accept public comments.

In these recommendations, released in July 2010, the task force provides:

- A national policy for stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes;

- A strengthened governance structure to provide sustained, high-level, and coordinated attention to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues;

- A targeted implementation strategy that identifies and prioritizes nine categories for action that the U.S. should pursue; and

- A framework for coastal and marine spatial planning that establishes a comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based approach to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of these resources.

In addition, the task force unanimously supports U.S. accession to the Convention of the Law of the Sea and ratification of its 1994 Implementing Agreement. This convention is the legal instrument governing activities on, over, and under the world's oceans, the report says.

The final recommendations were adopted into an executive order by President Obama. The executive order created a National Ocean Council, formed to focus on actions to advance the national policy. The council has nine priority objectives to address as part of its implementation strategy.

- To view the recommendations, visit the Internet: www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/OPTF_FinalRecs.pdf. The executive order is available at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-stewardship-ocean-our-coasts-and-great-lakes.

DOE awards millions for marine and hydrokinetic technology

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu has announced selections for more than $37 million in funding to accelerate the technological and commercial readiness of emerging marine and hydrokinetic technologies.

The 27 projects range from concept studies and component design research to prototype development and in-water device testing. This unprecedented level of funding will advance the ability of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies to contribute to the nation's electricity supply, DOE reported.

DOE is working with industry, universities, national laboratories, and other groups to develop technologies capable of harnessing the energy in the nation's ocean waves, tides, currents, thermal gradients, and free-flowing rivers. DOE will leverage private sector investments in marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies by providing cost-shared funding to industry and industry-led partnerships.

Some of the projects selected include:

- Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. of Pennington, N.J., will deploy a full-scale 150-kW PowerBuoy system in the Oregon Territorial Sea and collect two years of detailed operating data. This project will obtain critical technical and cost performance data for the wave energy converter. DOE funding is $2.4 million, and total project value is $4.8 million.

- Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) of Portland, Maine, will build, install, operate, and monitor a commercial-scale array of five grid-connected TidGen devices on the sea floor in Cobscook Bay off Eastport, Maine, in two phases over three years. The project will advance ORPC's cross-flow turbine tidal energy technology, producing a full-scale, grid-connected energy system, and will gather critical technical and cost performance data. The completed project will comprise an array of interconnected TidGen devices, associated power electronics, and interconnection equipment that will be capable of commercial operation in moderate- to high-velocity tidal currents in water depths of up to 150 feet. DOE funding is $10 million, and total project value is $21.1 million.

- Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County in Everett, Wash., will deploy, operate, monitor, and evaluate two 10-meter-diameter Open-Centre Turbines, manufactured by OpenHydro Group Ltd., in Admiralty Inlet of Puget Sound. The project is expected to provide a capacity of 1 MW during periods of peak tidal currents, with an average output of about 100 kW. This full-scale, grid-connected tidal system will gather critical technical and cost performance data. DOE funding is $10 million, and total project value is $20.1 million.

OPT announces wave energy grid connection completion

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) has completed grid connection of a wave energy device in the U.S. at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy.

The connection demonstrates the ability of OPT's PowerBuoy systems to produce utility-grade, renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid in a manner fully compliant with national and international standards, a press release states.

The PB40 PowerBuoy is part of OPT's ongoing program with the Navy to develop and test the company's PowerBuoy wave energy technology.

The PowerBuoy has been in operation since deployment in December 2009 - including surviving significant storm conditions - and has produced power from more than 3 million power take-off cycles and 4,400 hours of operation, a press release states.

The grid interface was certified in 2007 as compliant with national and international standards.

The project also underwent an extensive environmental assessment by an independent environmental firm in accordance the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) that resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

Based on the successful completion of this first stage of a four-year $15 million project for the Navy's Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program, the U.S. Navy has awarded $2.75 million in additional funding to OPT for a second stage. This award falls under the existing contract to provide an autonomous PowerBuoy wave energy conversion system for the Navy's near-coast anti-terrorism and maritime surveillance program.

Commerce department awards grant for Maine marine center

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that Washington County, Maine, will receive $1.4 million for the construction and rehabilitation of the Eastport Business Center and the establishment of the Maine Marine Energy Center. This center will house companies that manufacture and assemble components used in marine hydropower.

The center, proposed by Ocean Renewable Power Co. (ORPC), will be the first marine renewable energy manufacturing facility of its kind in the U.S., a press release states. ORPC announced its plans for the turbine manufacturing center to the city of Eastport in April. The Portland-based company has been testing its tidal turbine generator in Cobscook Bay since February.

According to EDA, this investment is expected to result in 75 jobs created and $23 million in private investment leveraged. This grant is funded under EDA's Community Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which is aimed at helping communities adjust to increasing competition in the global marketplace and create jobs to bolster the local economy.

Ocean Wave Energy Company develops wave units

Bristol, R.I.-based Ocean Wave Energy Company (OWECO) is developing a wave energy conversion unit.

This unit is based on the concept of a wave-activated linear electric generator. Three of these generators are co-assembled as the edge elements of a submerged tetrahedron module, with the upper portions housed in a common buoyancy chamber. Electricity is produced as the generators, mounted on shafts connected to large point absorber buoys, are driven directly by buoyancy and gravity forces of the waves.

Currently, OWECO's research focuses on testing counter-rotating electrical generators, module ballast control, and water purification and electrolytic hydrogen production. The company also is assessing mechanical elements, such as a quick connect/disconnect couplings and low-cost mooring configurations, says Foerd Ames, owner of OWECO.

The company recently formed a European partnership focusing on deployments in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Ames says.

Briefly...

New Jersey-based Princeton Power Systems (PPS) received a Phase II Small Business Innovative Research contract from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The project will involve development of a power conversion system to be used in tidal, wave, and related hydropower applications.

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