Florida Atlantic University is one step closer to establishing an offshore test site to capture energy from the ocean.
The university’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center’s proposed project to test the potential of harnessing power from the Gulf Stream will have no significant environmental impact, a federal agency has found.
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published the finding in the Federal Register.
The next step is the negotiation of a five-year lease to conduct testing activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
With close to $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Florida and private companies, researchers at FAU’s SNMREC have been working since 2007 to establish the world’s first offshore ocean current turbine test site.
“Environmental, socio-economic and technical factors have all been addressed during the planning process,” said Susan Skemp, SNMREC executive director. “It has been a fulfilling experience to engage a diverse group of disciplines and agencies to help prepare the first environmental assessment of ocean current energy generation.”
The project involves the installation of multiple anchored floating “test berths” to evaluate ocean current turbine designs. Each test berth will consist of a buoy anchored to the sea floor 13 miles off Fort Lauderdale. Plans are to measure ocean conditions and allow ocean current turbine prototypes to be deployed from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream.
“This initiative demonstrates the multidisciplinary nature of marine renewables research and FAU’s international leadership in the field,” said FAU Acting President Dennis Crudele. “The partners that SNMREC has brought together are looking forward to taking part in the groundbreaking research opportunities enabled by this important regulatory step.”
The SNMREC will perform additional surveys and a final sea trial of the buoy before installing the first test berth in early 2014. The turbines are scheduled to be deployed in the Gulf Stream for the first time in mid-2014 after a series of tests.