Marine energy has the potential to contribute significantly to our electricity needs. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working to tap into this vast energy source, and now, they have developed an educational resource called Renewable Energy Discovery (REDi) Island. This virtual platform allows users to explore cutting-edge marine energy technologies.
One promising technology being developed by NREL is tidal turbines. These turbines capture the energy from the ebb and flow of tides and have the potential to provide power to coastal communities. However, since they are constantly exposed to saltwater, it is crucial to use durable materials for their construction. NREL researchers are working on developing resilient turbine blades that can withstand up to 20 years underwater. One exciting material being researched is a recyclable epoxy material made from sugar stock or other biological materials. This material not only withstands the harsh marine environment but also helps decarbonize the energy sector.
In addition to tidal turbines, NREL has also patented distributed embedded energy converter technologies (DEEC-Tec). These small energy converters can be combined to form larger configurations, such as the bulge wave energy converters found on REDi Island. This technology provides a new way to convert marine energy from ocean waves, tides, and currents into usable forms of energy. DEEC-Tec devices are more resilient, cost-effective, and flexible in terms of installation, which could have a significant impact on the marine energy industry.
Water scarcity is a growing concern worldwide, and NREL is addressing this issue with wave-powered desalination systems. They have developed the hydraulic and electric reverse osmosis (HERO) wave energy converter, which uses the up-and-down motion of waves to power a desalination system. This technology can provide clean drinking water to remote or coastal communities, including disaster-stricken areas with limited water infrastructure.
The development of marine energy technologies is crucial for our transition to a sustainable energy future. Through REDi Island and ongoing research at NREL, we can continue to explore the vast potential of marine energy.
Sources: NREL, CleanTechnica