Wave, Tidal, and Ocean Current Sites
Wind is not the only source of renewable energy that can be tapped in ocean energy projects. Waves, tides, and ocean currents have also been identified as potential renewable sources, and energy development technologies are now being tested in U.S. waters. This data set shows the locations of wave, tidal, and ocean-current energy sites—also known as marine and hydrokinetic, or MHK, energy sites—that have been reserved by MHK developers who have received authorization to develop a project, or who are considering applying for authorization to do so. So why should ocean planners pay attention to MHK sites?
- Ocean planners need to know the location of existing, planned, and potential sites in order to balance new and existing activities. Potential interactions between MHK projects and other ongoing and new activities need to be considered carefully. The existing and potential users of the area should be engaged in the authorization process to ensure that all user interests are understood and considered. Additionally, a working knowledge of sites previously considered for development may shed light on which sites might be considered for development in the future. All of this information is extremely valuable in marine planning.
- Ocean planners need to know which federal agency to consult. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees the siting of MHK projects on the outer Continental Shelf (OCS) through its authority to issue leases for projects that produce or support the production, transportation, or transmission of renewable ocean energy. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues licenses for MHK projects on the OCS (in cooperation with BOEM) and in state waters. A hydropower license from FERC allows construction, operation, and maintenance of a project. Preliminary permits, which are issued by FERC in state waters, do not allow for the construction, operation, or maintenance of a project. A preliminary permit preserves a potential developer’s priority of application for a site while exploring feasibility of the project and preparing an application for a hydropower license. A FERC license is not required for an MHK project that is experimental, short term, intended for the limited purpose of preparing for a license application or providing an educational experience, and will not displace power from the interstate electrical grid. FERC also can issue preliminary permits and licenses in the waters of U.S. territories. Finally, FERC and BOEM have jointly developed guidance on pursuing an MHK project on the OCS.
Quick Caveats. The data set in MarineCadastre.gov does not include any inland permit or license locations. Also, while the record of leases, preliminary permits, and licenses is constantly evolving, the data set in MarineCadastre.gov is updated every four months. Users should contact the FERC or BOEM for the most recent information.
Stephen Bowler, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Christine Taylor, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
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