Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Project Holds Promise

As renewable energy moves steadily into the future, the possibilities that exist thanks to tidal and wave energy are becoming more and more widely accepted by countries hoping to adopt such technologies. While tidal and wave based projects are found around the globe, Europe has been home to several for example, the United States has traditionally preferred to avoid such projects in favor of wind and solar based energies. However, considering the amount of locations found within the United States, particularly in the Northeast, that have been found to be perfectly suitable for tidal or wave projects, it falls now to those supporting the renewable energy type to gain support and push for the testing and installation of the technology.

In Massachusetts, one such group has been formed between researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and various state officials to promote tidal and wave based renewable energy in an area south of nearby Martha’s Vineyard. The idea is to use a tract of ocean to create a sort of testing area for offshore renewable energy technology companies that would allow them to work with their equipment. First proposed in 2008, the area would be approximately twenty seven square miles of ocean and seafloor that has been deemed suitable for renewable energy projects. Massachusetts state officials believe that by founding this research and development area, they will be making the state the leader in offshore, wave, and tidal based renewable energy development in the United States.

There has been some concern by critics of the project that the research and development project could permanently damage the nearby fishing industry. They believe that all of the testing that will be going on after the area has been established could have negative effects on nearby fish ecosystems. Similar concerns over a project in New Hampshire eventually led to the state officials cutting their support for a wave and tidal renewable energy project. If the assessments do not go as well as many believe they will, this project could have the same fate. The leaders of the project are hoping to being work on the area in full sometime next year after the battery of assessments are completed that they believe will ensure that the area will not be detrimental to the local ecosystem or currently existing shipping and fishing businesses.

The project is both being led and receiving support from the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center that consists of several New England based universities and organizations with interests in offshore renewable energy. So far, the organization has received nearly $750,000 for the establishment of the Martha’s Vineyard project and is likely to receive more Department of Energy based grants as the project continues. With the researchers and state officials ready to go ahead, it is only a matter of time before the Northeastern United States becomes a hotbed of offshore renewable energy. With the sizable offshore wind farms already undergoing research or construction, the addition of tidal and wave based renewable energy would be welcome indeed.

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