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Multi-Sector Ocean Use: Traditional and Alternative Energy MAFAC Meeting May 13, 2009 Monterey, CA Tom Bigford NOAA has an important energy role Understanding and predicting changes to Earth’s environment Products and services Statutory authority for OTEC licensing

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Multi-Sector Ocean Use:Traditional and Alternative Energy

MAFAC Meeting

May 13, 2009

Monterey, CA

Tom Bigford

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  • NOAA has an important energy role

    • Understanding and predicting changes to Earth’s environment

    • Products and services

    • Statutory authority for OTEC licensing

    • Marine environment stewardship and trustee responsibilities

  • Increased role as traditional energy sectors expand and marine renewables evolve

  • Working with industry and others to move forward

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NOAA’s Engagement in Energy

  • Lubchenco interest

  • NOAA Ocean Council priority

  • NOAA Energy Team

  • NMFS Information Exchange

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MAFAC’s Engagementin Energy?

  • Fisheries (economic impacts)

    • Spatial displacement

      (de facto MPAs, navigational)

    • Gear modifications

  • Habitat

    • Site-specific effects

    • Multi-array and ecosystem effects

  • Protected Resources

    • Entanglement

    • Other “takings”

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NOAA’s Statutory Responsibilitiesfor Energy Issues

  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

  • Endangered Species Act

  • Marine Mammal Protection Act

  • National Environmental Policy Act

  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act

  • National Marine Sanctuaries Act

  • Coastal Zone Management Act

  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Act

  • The Federal Power Act

  • Oil Pollution Act

  • Deepwater Ports Act

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Oil and Gas

Liquefied Natural Gas


Nuclear Power


Offshore Wind

Hydrokinetic (Ocean Current, Tidal, Wave, and In-Stream)

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

Energy Issues by Sector

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Traditional Energy Sectors

  • Offshore Oil and Gas

  • Liquefied Natural Gas

  • Hydropower

  • Nuclear Power

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Alternative Energy Technology Characteristics

  • Multitude of individual generating units

  • Expansive spatial footprint

  • Significant engineering challenges

  • Uncertainties regarding impacts

    • Siting criteria and operating parameters

    • Environmental data collection/in-water testing

  • Shallow capitalization; slow maturation

  • Balancing promotion and precaution

  • Adaptive Management

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Offshore Wind Energy

  • More than 900,000 MW of potential wind energy exist off the U.S. coast – more than half of this is in the North Atlantic.

  • Currently no commercial wind facilities operating on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, but proposals are being discussed. NOAA provides consultations on the impacts of any proposals on agency trust resources.

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Hydrokinetic Energy

Electricity from “waves, tides, and currents in oceans, estuaries, and tidal areas; free flowing water in rivers, lakes and streams; free flowing water in man-made channels…”

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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

  • Potential NOAA concerns:

    • Entrainment and impingement

    • Effects of localized temperature changes

    • Increased nutrients in surface waters

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Pilot Hydrokinetic R&D

  • Baseline information: ecological, socio-economic, historic-cultural, aesthetic

  • Pilot project monitoring: installation, operation and maintenance, decommissioning and removal

  • Bioengineering: designing prototypes to prevent or reduce adverse ecological effects

  • Model development: extrapolation of

    individual impacts to commercial levels;

    assessing cumulative impacts

  • “Fish” “Passage” in the ocean

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‘Commercial’ Hydrokinetic R&D

  • Expanded project monitoring: refining siting criteria, sensitive area closures

  • Continued bioengineering: adjusting technology capabilities and operating parameters to individual species characteristics

  • Multiple-array and ecosystem-level impact modeling

  • Information exchange


  • Independent research capacity

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  • Difficulty in balancing multiple uses of the marine environment

  • Scientific uncertainty and lack of information associated with direct and cumulative impacts

  • New forms of collaboration with outside partners needed

  • Energy issues represent a substantial workload for NOAA staff, as traditional sectors expand and new sectors evolve

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  • Working with new energy sectors; industry inviting NOAA participation

  • NOAA data and data collection expertise can assist the design of new technologies

  • Rare opportunity to avoid and mitigate impacts at early stages

  • Input into the design of new regulatory processes

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Evolving Regulatory and Legislative Framework

  • FERC

  • MMS

  • FERC and MMS MOU

  • Legislation

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  • Two-stage pilot process

  • Sensitive area designations

  • Thresholds for permits

  • Strict performance targets

  • Limited access

  • Permit/license moratoria

  • Monitoring protocols

  • Adaptive management metrics

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Considerations for MAFAC

  • Competing Uses

  • Marine Spatial Planning

  • Get involved

    • Stakeholder meetings

    • Agency briefings

    • State/Federal workshops

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Further information:

Tom Bigford

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Marine Fisheries Service

Office of Habitat Conservation

Silver Spring, MD 20910

PH: 301/713-4300 x131

Email: [email protected]