Report on Potential Environmental Effects of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies

Cover of DOE's Report to Congress on the Potential Environmental Effects of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies

The Department of Energy recently released the Report to Congress on the Potential Environmental Effects of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies. This groundbreaking report analyzes the potential environmental effects of technologies that capture energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, the natural flow of water in rivers, and marine thermal gradients, without building new dams or diversions. Marine and hydrokinetic technologies are not yet widely deployed, and their environmental effects are not well documented. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for DOE to prepare this report, in consultation with the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The report focuses on potential effects of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies on aquatic environments (i.e., rivers, estuaries, and oceans), fish and fish habitats, ecological relationships, and other marine and freshwater aquatic resources, as well as options to prevent adverse environmental effects, the potential for environmental monitoring and adaptive management to mitigate effects, and necessary components in adaptive management regimes for these technologies. Based on the available information, including peer-reviewed literature, project documents, environmental assessments, and observations from similar activities, the report describes nine types of environmental effects that may occur and describes how monitoring and adaptive management principles might be employed to evaluate and mitigate those effects. The report finds no conclusive evidence that marine and hydrokinetic technologies will cause significant environmental effects and highlights areas where further information and research is needed.

For more information on DOE’s work in this area and to download the report, see the Wind and Hydropower Technology Program’s Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Market Acceleration page.

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