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Third Annual Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference

The Third Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference, held in April in Seattle, Washington, addressed the challenges and opportunities of getting marine hydrokinetic systems up and running and producing grid-ready power.

The conference series brings stakeholders together to share information and to highlight the benefits of marine hydrokinetic technologies, helping get projects tested and in the water, conference organizers said. More than 340 representatives from government, academia and industry attended the 2010 conference, representing 13 countries, including China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom and France.

The event was organized by the Foundation for Ocean Renewables, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) and other partners.

The first Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference was held close to the investment community in New York City. The next conference was held in Washington, D.C., to bring the permitting challenges and technology development funding needs directly to legislators.

Seattle was chosen this year, the conference organizers said, to foster discussions about international cooperation and government partnerships in technology assessment and testing.

The conference featured advances in wave-energy-conversion devices and two of the most advanced tidal projects in the United States—the Snohomish Public Utility District proposal to install OpenHydro (Dublin, Ireland) tidal turbines and the U.S. Navy's proposal to install Verdant Power LLC (New York, New York) turbines, both in different areas of Puget Sound.

As a first this year, exhibit space was offered to all and filled in as the conference approached. Twenty-four organizations participated in the exhibition this year, including the Society of Naval Architects and Engineers, the International Ocean Observatory System, the Marine Technology Society, the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust and the Minerals Management Service (MMS).

Companies at the exhibition showed off some of their latest products and technologies. Nova Scotia Power (Halifax, Canada) displayed a working model of the OpenHydro turbine presently deployed in the Bay of Fundy.

Seminars and Sessions
The first day featured a number of professional development seminars, including a Federal Energy Regulatory Com-mission seminar offering guidance on the permitting process for marine hydrokinetic systems, an MMS seminar about offshore inspection monitoring methodologies and a seminar covering marine spatial planning and the new NOAA/MMS marine cadastre project. There were also lessons in advocacy and public acceptance of ocean energy projects as well as a primer on government funding for ocean energy systems.

A special session of the U.S. delegation to the three-year-old International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Committee 114 was held to report on its progress and to develop an outreach plan to recruit additional members from the U.S. research community.

Neil Rondorf, working group chairman from SAIC Inc. (McLean, Virginia), said that all stakeholders must participate in developing marine hydrokinetic system standards. He said that the offshore wind industry has been developing standards for 10 years and that it is time to bring marine hydrokinetic systems up to internationally recognized levels.

The second day began with a panel about how research centers are supporting the ocean energy industry. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire welcomed all and pledged to bring more ocean energy systems to the region. She was joined by Liz Birnbaum, then-director of MMS, who discussed efforts by the service to accommodate the many uses and activities on the Outer Continental Shelf, including marine hydrokinetic. Will Lutgen, executive director of the North West Public Power Association, also spoke on the panel. The power association was an early strategic partner with OREC and represents many of the first-time utility marine hydrokinetic customers, including Snohomish County Public Utility District and Central Lincoln People's Utility District.

At lunch, P.J. Doherty, of Strategic Marketing Innovations (Washington, D.C.), provided advice to developers based on his 20-year career at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Mike Murphy of HDR|DTA (Portland, Maine) moderated a panel about deployments with James Taylor of Nova Scotia Power, John McCarthy of Ocean Energy Ltd. (Cobh, Ireland), Richard Morris of the European Marine Energy Center, David Langston of Voith Hydro WaveGen Ltd. (Inverness, Scotland) and Frank Nuemann of the Wave Energy Centre in Porto, Portugal. Participants discussed deployments, operations and experiences getting projects into the water.

Two of the most popular panels were the Chief Executive Officer Forums, conference organizers said, moderated by Keith Martin of law firm Chadbourne & Parke and Bill Holmes of law firm Stoel Rives. Sean O'Neill, president of OREC, praised the work of Chadbourne & Parke as its counselor on intricate tax policies. Martin's panel ended the day with opinions and views on technology, business plans and public policy.

Opening government testing facilities to marine hydrokinetic developers was addressed by DOE's Alejandro Moreno, who said that DOE is determined to provide pathways for developers to scale up their devices to operate in the harsh marine environment. Conference delegate Bill Staby of Resolute Marine Energy Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts) suggested that some of the government labs, such as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, should set up connections with industry to share best practices for operations, test and evaluation.

'The DOE labs have terrific capabilities which are of great potential value to technology developers like us,' Staby said. 'These facilities are actively responsible for environmental assessment work, and we see great value in having them work side-by-side with us as we move into the open ocean to conduct prototype tests. We'd gain important insights from work they've already done, they'd gain additional insights from device-specific and site-specific data collection, and the entire industry would potentially gain if the results of their work were widely shared, and especially if it were used to streamline state and federal permitting processes.'

Conference organizers said that by concentrating on the specifics of bringing marine hydrokinetic systems to the commercial scale, by bringing together the international development community and putting this conference on the road, the Foundation for Ocean Renewables and its many partners are pioneering the creation of a new clean form of energy.

Next year's conference is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C.

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