Country Reports



In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office’s (WPTO) Marine and Hydrokinetic Program solicited a second request for information from stakeholders to refine the draft National Strategy for Marine and Hydrokinetics. This Strategy has been developed and refined through multiple rounds of feedback and discussion with industry, academia, government staff, and other stakeholders. The WPTO Strategy nominally covers the time-period from present to 2035, but it is intended to be updated every 4-5 years to reflect changes in research needs, priorities, and challenges faced by the industry.

In its current form the draft WPTO Strategy consists of a vision, DOE-centric mission, set of core challenges that currently inhibit the development of the U.S marine renewable energy industry, and various approaches that the Department believes are necessary to address the challenges. An overview of the draft WPTO strategy is presented below.

Currently, the vision identified in the Strategy is for “A U.S. Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) industry that expands and diversifies the nation’s energy portfolio by responsibly delivering power from ocean and river resources”. The WPTO mission that supports this vision is to “Conduct early-stage research to further the development of transformative, reliable, and cost-competitive MHK technologies and reduce critical deployment barriers.”

The draft Strategy identifies four main challenges facing the marine renewable energy industry. These challenges include:

  1. the unique and complex engineering issues faced in designing devices that can efficiently convert dynamic marine resources into usable energy;
  2. the related but distinct difficulties of reliably deploying and operating marine renewable energy systems in harsh marine environments;
  3. lengthy permitting processes and limited access to testing infrastructure which impedes developers’ ability to rapidly iterate designs; and
  4. limited information developed or available on the technologies and potential markets, along with undeveloped supply chains.

These challenges illustrate why the development of commercial marine renewable energy technologies is complicated and also highlight why high-risk, early-stage research and development is necessary to catalyze innovation. Methods of approach are presented to address each of these challenges (see summary figure below), along with associated categories of activities which the DOE intends to support over time.


Approaches to Address MHK Development Challenges in Draft U.S. Dept. of Energy MHK Program Strategy


In May 2017, five U.S. Senators introduced a piece of legislation set to increase domestic production of renewable energy from ocean waves, tides, and currents. The Marine Energy Act would reauthorize the DOE’s marine renewable energy programs from 2018 through 2022. The bill also directs DOE to research ways of building a stable marine energy supply chain in the United States, as well as ways of harmonizing marine energy development with ocean navigation, fisheries, and critical infrastructure such as undersea cables. The bill also includes funding authorization for the national marine renewable energy research centers. The bill is currently under deliberation.

Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) are a market incentive for marine renewable energy developers. CREBs are tax credit bonds, the proceeds of which are used for capital expenditures incurred by governmental bodies (including states and municipalities), public power providers, or cooperative electric companies for a qualified renewable energy facility, marine renewables included. The bondholder receives federal tax credits in lieu of a portion of the traditional bond interest, resulting in a lower effective interest rate for the borrower. The issuer remains responsible for repaying the principal on the bond.

At the state level, Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) are another incentive program that may be used by state, local and tribal governments to finance certain types of energy projects. QECBs are similar to CREBS, but are not subject to a U.S. Department of Treasury application and approval process. With QECBs the borrower who issues the bond pays back only the principal of the bond, and the bondholder receives federal tax credits in lieu of the traditional bond interest. The tax credit may be taken quarterly to offset the tax liability of the bondholder.

Marine renewable energy technologies are an eligible energy resource under numerous states’ Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and voluntary renewable energy goals. This market-based mechanism requires utilities to source a percentage of their electricity from renewable resources. As of this writing, 29 states have RPS in place and eight states have voluntary renewable energy standards or targets.

Many states also have Public Benefits Funds (PBF) which are a state-level market support mechanism designed to provide continued support for renewable energy resources, energy efficiency initiatives and low-income energy programs. The incentives for each PBF varies by state. MHK technologies can also benefit from funding opportunities through non-profits and public-private partnerships, such as the Oregon Wave Energy Trust.


Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) Marine and Hydrokinetic Program
Because marine renewable energy is an early stage market with limited incentives for investment, the WPTO has a clear role in expediting the development of innovative marine renewable energy technologies. The WPTO makes investments that support key technology innovations, mitigate risks, and assist the private sector in creating a robust U.S. marine renewable industry by providing funding and technical assistance. WPTO funds research in four main topic areas:

  1. marine renewable energy system design and validation;
  2. testing infrastructure;
  3. environmental monitoring and instrumentation development and research; and
  4. resource characterization.

Work in each topic area provides the industry with fundamental tools, research, and innovations that tackle specific challenges hindering development. Since 2008 the WPTO has provided funding for 228 projects which has been split roughly equally among private companies, universities, and the national labs. The bulk of WPTO funding to-date for marine renewable energy has been allocated towards wave energy research (see charts).

Federal funding for the WPTO has maintained an upward trend since fiscal year (FY) 2013. The WPTO’s FY 2017 annual budget for was funded at $59 million—a 33% increase from FY 2016. The budget for FY 2018 is currently under deliberation. More information on WPTO can be found at:




Developers can seek DOE funding through several different competitive funding mechanisms. Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) are competitive grants for industry, academic, or national laboratory to form partnerships in conducting research and testing. Some FOAs are available to international applicants. Small Business Vouchers (SBV) provide clean energy small businesses access to the state-of-the-art facilities and experts at participating DOE national laboratories (see Research & Development Section). Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are methods through which federal agencies with large R&D budgets set aside a fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses to pursue early stage research.  Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. Lastly, DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) leverages R&D funding in the applied energy programs, paired with private partners, to mature promising energy technologies with high impact potential.

The WPTO identifies and funds qualified projects within specific topic areas that support program objectives, depending on available funds. In evaluating all proposals for new energy developments or new adaptations of existing technology, the WPTO assesses whether individual applications clearly meet the goals of the topic area and their potential to advance the industry. More information on available funding opportunities can be found at:

As an example of a recent FOA, in June 2017 the WPTO announced up to $12 million to support the development of innovative technologies capable of generating reliable and cost-effective electricity from U.S. water resources. This FOA had two topic areas, Topic 1: Wave Energy Converters System Advancement; and Topic Area 2: Marine Renewable Energy Technology Development as an open topic. There were four awards in total. AquaHarmonics and California Wave Power Technologies were each awarded funding to advance their designs and conduct open water testing under Topic Area 1. Under Topic 2, Portland State University was awarded funding to develop a multistage, magnetically geared generator specific to marine renewable energy devices while ReVision Consulting will be researching accurate wave-prediction technology for WEC device controllers that can help WECs more efficiently convert energy from waves into electricity.

U.S. Department of the Navy
The Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) continues to actively support the research and development of various renewable energy conversion technologies. NAVFAC EXWC’s funding efforts focus on advancing technology development to harness marine energy resources to ensure energy security and for powering U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assets both on- and off-shore. Historically, NAVFAC funds have been allocated to the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii, the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, and marine renewable energy development efforts at the University of Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory.



There are numerous universities, private companies, organizations, non-profits, and national labs that actively support research on marine renewable energy in the United States. Collectively, these institutions represent approximately 40 unique testing facilities for marine energy research. To foster marine renewable energy technology research, education and outreach, the WPTO has partnered with five universities to operate three National Marine Renewable Energy Centers (NMRECs). These NMRECs are:

  • Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC): The NNMREC is a partnership between three universities in the Pacific Northwest: University of Washington, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) coordinates access to test facilities at the three universities and develops new, open-water test sites in the region (see Open Sea Test Sites section).
  • Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC): HINMREC is operated by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii: Manoa. Its primary objective is to facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems. HINMREC helps with the management of two test sites in Hawaii, WETS and the OTEC Test Site (see Open Sea Test Sites section).
  • Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC): SNMREC is operated by the Florida Atlantic University. Although SNMREC has research interests in all marine renewables, it places an emphasis on those resources available to the southeastern US: ocean currents and offshore thermal energy conversion.

The DOE’s national laboratories possess unique instruments and facilities capable of addressing large-scale, complex R&D challenges with research expertise and an approach emphasizing translating basic science to innovation. The WPTO partners with several of these laboratories to support R&D in marine renewable energy, examples of their research efforts are below:

  • Sandia National Laboratories (SNL): SNL conducts research on advanced controls, simulation of marine renewable energy environmental impacts, advanced materials for coatings and construction, testing and simulation of technologies, and resource characterization.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): NREL’s water power program conducts research on energy markets, grid integration, resource characterization and mapping, design and simulation, technology evaluation and validation, as well as performing full scale validation tests on systems and components.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL): PNNL conducts research on environmental impacts, resource characterization and modelling, advanced materials and manufacturing, monitoring techniques and data gathering, and education outreach. PNNL is also responsible for implementing Annex IV under OES on behalf of the WPTO.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL): ORNL conducts research on environmental impacts of instream technology, advanced materials for coatings and construction, design for manufacturing, and assessment of stream resources.



In summer 2017, ABB along with partners at Texas A&M’s Advanced Electrical Machines Lab and Resolute Marine Energy developed and tested an integrated magnetic-gear generator. This innovative design has advanced the state-of-the-art for power take-off systems for wave energy converters. The test results of the 10-kW prototype indicated the generator could be ideal for low-speed, high-torque applications like wave energy, or even tidal and wind. The prototype was part of a DOE-funded project to research novel direct-drive generators that could eliminate hydraulic components in some wave energy power take-off systems.

In May 2017, NREL completed deployment of two buoys with high-accuracy sensors to record wave and tide movement off the coasts of Oregon and Maine, areas known to be potential hot spots for marine energy development. The work is part of larger project funded by DOE, in concert with SNL and the PNNL, to analyze wave and tidal energy sites with great potential for development and gather data to validate the computer modeling tools that industry uses to design devices.

In June 2017, Ocean Renewable Power Company completed full-scale testing of a specialized bearing system and associated driveline components. The research was funded by WPTO and was completed in collaboration with the University of Maine. This is the first phase of the project, future phases will center on development of a more robust electrical generator to reduce failure rates.

In August 2017, SNL, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, tested advanced controls on a WEC at the Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin in Bethesda, Maryland. This testing will support the Lab in control algorithm development, numerical simulation, and future model testing to increase the power output of WEC devices. The Navy’s MASK Basin, used in the finals of the Wave Energy Prize, has a state-of-the-art wave maker that is capable of making precise waves for hours. This allows researchers to quickly test the converter’s control systems under numerous wave conditions and see the response.

In 2017, NNMREC conducted several laboratory experiments with cross-flow turbines and simulations of wave energy converters which highlighted the potential for elevated power generation from dense array configurations, particularly when machine learning is used to coordinate control strategies across the array. Also in 2017, Environmental researchers at NNMREC achieved automatic detection and classification of marine animals using an integrated instrumentation system and advanced standardized approaches for characterizing biological environments at wave and current energy sites. Core research outcomes also included direct measurements of extreme wave conditions, methods to model and mitigate debris interactions, and robotic autonomy from inspection and maintenance activities. In aggregate, this research adds to the growing suite of innovative tools and capabilities that can reduce
the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of marine renewable energy.

The WPTO is a supporting body of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 114. The IEC TC 114, through the collaboration of 26 member countries, is developing standards that will define the international requirements for all ocean energy devices in the future, helping with certification and commercialization of devices. In 2017 the U.S. TAG held its annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, the focus of which was to discuss the status on the committee’s specifications. More information can be found at:




The development of comprehensive testing infrastructure is a strategic imperative for the WPTO to successfully address sector challenges. Prototype testing is essential to drive down development costs, validate models, prove reliability, and demonstrate compliance with applicable design standards.

The majority of test sites in the United States are operated by one of the NMRECs (see R&D section), other sites across the country are operated by organizations such as the Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE), the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC-CSI), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) of New England.

There are twelve open water test sites that are operational, one under development, and one offshore wind site that can be used for wave energy testing. These sites can accommodate scaled prototypes to full-scale grid connected devices. An overview of each U.S. open water test site is below. More detailed information on many of these test sites can be found at the following website:

U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS): The U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), in conjunction with the University of Hawaii and HINMREC, operate this site. It is a near shore ocean wave energy test site located at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay. The offshore site consists of three test berths: two at 60 and 80 m depths for 100 kW to 1 MW wave energy converters, respectively, and another shallow water berth at 30-m rated for devices up to 250 kW. The berths include three-point moorings and power cable connections to the local grid.

OTEC Test Site: HINMREC also assists the private sector with advancing ocean thermal energy conversion systems towards commercialization. OTEC demonstrations and studies have been conducted at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) facility at Keahole Point. The Center has teamed with engineering firm Makai Ocean Engineering to conduct long-term studies of corrosion and bio-corrosion of aluminum subjected to flowing seawater. This on-shore 105 kW test facility was constructed in 2011 and is still being operated by Makai Ocean Engineering.

PMEC – North Energy Test Site (NETS): This wave energy prototype test site is located approximately two nautical miles off the coast of Oregon. It has been operational since 2012 and WET-NZ was one of the first developers to utilize the site. The site can accommodate two WEC devices concurrently with outputs of up to 100 kW. This site uses the Ocean Sentinel test buoy for site and device monitoring and as an artificial electrical load for devices.

PMEC – Lake Washington Test Site: The Lake Washington Test Site is a freshwater, off-grid WEC test site suitable for prototype testing that became operational in 2012. The site is located near Seattle, WA in the northern portion of Lake Washington. The site is best suited for wave energy converter device testing. The water depth is approximately 51 m and the gently sloping bottom has a composition consisting mostly of soft mud. There are no permanent mooring systems installed and no grid-connection.

PMEC – Tanana River Test Site: The Tanana River Test Site is located near Fairbanks, AK on the Tanana River. The site can support a single floating platform located in mid-channel with an anchored mooring system rated to 50,000 pounds holding force. The average current speed in the river is 3 m/s and the site is suitable for testing from May--September of each year. Devices rated up to 10 kW are appropriate for this test site, but it is not grid connected.

PMEC – South Energy Test Site (SETS) (Under Development): The WPTO selected PMEC-SETS as the recipient of federal funding and awarded the project $35 million to design, permit, and construct the National Wave Energy Testing Facility off the coast of Newport, Oregon. In July 2017 WPTO and Oregon State University concluded detailed negotiations for the development and operation of the site. Following construction, PMEC-SETS will serve as the national test facility for evaluating full-scale WEC device performance, environmental interactions, and survivability. This site is planning to host a utility scale grid connection from shore out to four separate ocean test berths in 65-78 m water depths. It is anticipated that SETS will be permitted for testing of up to twenty WECs concurrently, which will be useful for array validation testing. The site is planning to be operational by 2021.

Camp Rilea Test Site: Camp Rilea is a military base maintained by the Oregon Army National Guard and serves as Training Center for the Armed Forces. The testing site is operated in coordination with PMEC. Camp Rilea is not an official test site, but developers have tested at this location in the past due to its wave climate and proximity to shore. This site is located approximately one nautical mile offshore in waters about 15 m deep and is suitable for testing of shallow and mid-depth wave energy converters. The site is well monitored with data buoys, but as of this writing there is no testing infrastructure available and the site is not pre-permitted.

Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) – Ocean Current Test Facility: SNMREC, operated by Florida Atlantic University, advances research in open-ocean current systems by building the capability, infrastructure, and strategic partnerships necessary to support technology developers on the path to commercialization. Offshore of Ft. Lauderdale, the SNMREC has small-scale test berths that are used for limited duration deployments of ocean current devices. A permanent mooring, supported by a surface buoy, is used to lower prototype devices into the Florida Current from a tender vessel. Developers can perform towed testing with a support vessel or component testing using a 3 m, 25-kW horizontal axis research turbine and in-water rotor-testing platform. Long-term deployments of prototypes can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Grid-connected, full-scale test berths are under development.

The Jennette’s Pier Wave Energy Test Facility: Jennette’s Pier is owned by the state of North Carolina and managed by the NC Aquarium Division. The University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC-CSI) began a partnership with Jennette’s Pier in 2004 to foster research, ocean energy device testing and monitoring, outreach, and education. Part of this partnership is the Jennette’s Pier Wave Energy Test Center. The site, located near Nags Head, North Carolina, has two shallow water test berth locations suitable for scaled prototype testing. One berth is at 6 m water depth and the other is at 11 m depth, approximately 600 m east of the pier. Moorings at the berths are temporary and power output from the berths is delivered to shore via the Jennette’s Pier, but there is no grid connection. Both test berths are permitted by the USACE.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility (FRF): The Field Research Facility is near the town of Duck, North Carolina (approximately 34 km northwest of the Jennette’s Pier test site). Central to the FRF is a 560 m long, steel-and-concrete research pier that extends to the 7 m water depth contour. FRF researches weather, waves, currents, tides, and beach change. The USACE FRF offers a wide range of technical and testing infrastructure support services for WEC developers. The site has small scale, shallow water wave energy resources, and can accommodate scaled devices. There are no grid connections at this site for exporting power, however grid-access is provided via a three-phase AC outlet.

Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE) General Sullivan Tidal Energy Test Site: This tidal energy test site is located in New Hampshire at the General Sullivan Bridge (Little Bay Bridge) on the Lower Piscataqua River, which is a natural bottleneck. This site is considered a full-scale test site for vertical axis turbines, and can also be considered a “large-scale” test site (prototype scales of 1:3-1:5, or 12-21 m) for large diameter horizontal axis turbines. The tidal range at this area is approximately 2.5 m and peak currents of 4 knots (2 m/s) are typical. The water depth at the site is approximately 8 m. The site has a floating test platform available for use, which is of a pontoon-barge design.

CORE AMAC Wave Energy Test Site: The AMAC wave energy test site is located at the University of New Hampshire Atlantic Marine Aquaculture (AMAC) site which is six miles from the New Hampshire coast near Durham. It covers an area of 30 acres in water depths of approximately 52 m. This site is suitable for full scale device testing. The site has a subsurface mooring system and a large feed buoy is available as a platform and a potential end user load for any wave energy extraction device, but there is no grid connection. It is fully permitted by the USACE and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS): BTTS is situated on the Cape Canal Railroad Bridge in Bourne, MA and was recently opened for testing at the end of 2017. Currents at this site can be upwards of 7 knots and the water flow has low turbulence and wave action. The site is close enough to shore such that cranes can be used to deploy and recover tidal devices, or alternatively serviced by a floating barge. The site can accommodate turbines up to 3 m in diameter with maximum power outputs of 100 kW.

UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site: This test site located near Monhegan Island, about 12 miles off the coast of Maine, was created by the state legislature in 2009 and it is now one of the most extensively studied sites in the Gulf of Maine. The test site is primarily focused on the testing of offshore wind turbines, however it does allow for wave energy testing as well. The site is limited to two wave energy converters and a single subsea utility line with a maximum capacity of 25 megawatts. This site is operated by the University of Maine and has undergone multiple studies to characterize its baseline physical and ecological environments.



Fred Olsen: The BOLT Lifesaver, a point-absorber device, completed a one-year demonstration project at the Navy’s WETS in Hawaii in April 2017. The device utilizes five power take-off units, each rated for a capacity of 10 kW.

Over the length of the project, the device generated 22,364 kWh, with an average output of 3.2 kW, and the largest continuous power export lasting 200 days. This project provided excellent data on device reliability and performance, and also exposed areas for improvement in structures and materials for a more robust design.



Ocean Energy USA: The OE Buoy, an oscillating water column design, is slotted for half-scale device testing in the later-half of 2018 at the Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii. The deployment will last approximately one year and will provide useful performance data for model validations, reliability performance, and opportunities for cost reductions.

Columbia Power Technologies (CPT): CPT is planning to test a one-third scale system of their StingRAY wave energy converter device at the Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii in the later-half of 2018. As a precursor to this open water testing, CPT conducted testing on the StingRAY’s drive train at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) using their state-of-the-art dynamometer in 2016 and 2017.

This deployment will provide valuable reliability data as well as indicate opportunities for design improvements and optimization.

Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI): NWEI’s Azura™ is a multimode, point absorber WEC that extracts power from both the heave and surge motions of waves to maximize energy capture. NWEI has previously tested their technology in Oregon in 2012, and a half-scale device was tested with 98% availability for 19 months beginning in June 2015 at the 30 m berth at WETS.

NWEI is currently developing a full scale Azura™ to be tested at the U.S. Navy’s WETS in Hawaii. The proposed testing will allow to determine the energy capture matrix of a full scale device, resulting in a more accurate assessment of LCOE.

Verdant Power: Verdant’s Fifth Generation Kinetic Hydropower System (Gen5 KHPS) is an axial flow current-capturing turbine system. Verdant and its partners are working on the design of a TriFrame (TF) that optimizes turbine spacing and structural requirements to allow for cost-effective installation, O&M, and retrieval.

Verdant plans to test this new system along with their Gen5 KHPS at their pilot project site in the East River near New York City.

This project will advance our understanding of optimal turbine spacing and best practices for installation, maintenance, and retrieval of underwater turbines.




In February 2017, WPTO held its Peer Review Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate DOE-funded water power research and development projects for contributions to DOE’s mission and goals, and to assess progress made against stated objectives. Presentations from the Peer Review can be found at:

In May 2017, Washington, DC was once again the host of Waterpower Week in Washington. This annual event brings three events under one roof: National Hydropower Association’s Annual Conference, the International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC), and the Marine Energy Technology Symposium. . Information on the event, including some presentations can be found at:

In December 2017 WPTO organized and hosted a three day Distributed and Alternative Applications for Marine Renewables Forum in Washington, DC to investigate alternative applications and markets for marine energy, other than grid scale power. The information collected from this Forum will be used in a forthcoming report on each of the potential markets and will ultimately help guide the WPTO’s activities and strategy. The report will be open for public comments during 2018.


At the national level, there is no existing marine spatial planning policy for ocean energy.

On June 19th, 2018, the President signed Executive Order 13840 entitled “Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States”. The new EO revokes Executive Order 13547 (Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes) of 2010 and in its place, emphasizes a new ocean policy and accompanying processes to advance the economy, national security, and environmental interests of the U.S. The new ocean policy does not explicitly mention Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) or prioritize its inclusion for Federal engagement with ocean matters. State and Regional Ocean Partnerships will engage in MSP and issue marine spatial plans as decided by the individual states or through other regional mechanisms such as regional ocean partnerships.

Previously, the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, Executive Order 13457, and the Nation Ocean Policy Implementation Plan (Appendix Milestones) established and supported MSP at a regional level. The United States and its territories were divided into nine Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs). As of 2018, some RPBS have formed and are at various stages of the marine planning process (e.g. the Mid-Atlantic RPB and the Northeast). The new executive order calls for the establishment of an Ocean Policy Committee (OPC) to replace the previous structure of the RPBs and the National Ocean Council (NOC). However, the new OPC has a similar mandate to the prior NOC and specific to Marine Spatial Planning the new EO encourages the OPC to work with stakeholders, including regional ocean partnerships, to assist when matters that may require interagency or intergovernmental solutions arise.

Several states in the United State have developed and implemented their own marine plans. Some existing plans were initiated before the release of the National Ocean Policy, and in 2018 Washington State adopted a Marine Spatial Plan for their Pacific Coast; other states are considering similar actions.

Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have not been defined on a national level, though State Task Forces led by the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have identified and set aside initial areas for the development of offshore wind. A number of states have also identified selected areas for ocean energy development (e.g. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Oregon). Areas identified through spatial planning and pre-selected processes have typically involved collaborative processes including multiple stakeholder groups.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are:
•The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – It has jurisdiction over marine and hydrokinetic facilities in navigable waters that are connected to the grid;
•The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) – It has the authority to issue leases and easements for hydrokinetic projects located partially or entirely on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS);
•The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) – It issues permits for any structure placed in navigable waters. It has jurisdiction over marine and hydrokinetic facilities in navigable waters that are not connected to the grid;
•The U.S. Coast Guard (USGS) – it issues permits to mark all obstructions in navigable waters with navigation aids to ensure that projects do not interfere with established shipping lanes

Multiple other federal and state agencies are consulted during the permitting process to ensure that projects comply with a number of federal and state environmental protection statutes. These agencies include but are not limited to: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (specifically the National Marine Fisheries Service within NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks Service.

This handbook is currently being updated and is scheduled to be released in late 2018. The sequential steps are dependent upon the location of the project and whether the project will be connected to the grid. FERC allows prospective developers to apply for a preliminary permit, which gives the developer first rights for the development of a specific site, but it is not required to obtain a FERC pilot or commercial license. There are five different scenarios (including best-case scenario timelines) in which different permits and licenses are necessary:

Scenario 1 – Non-grid connected pilot project in state waters – 12 months;
Scenario 2 – Grid connected pilot project in state waters – 12 months;
Scenario 3 – Commercial scale project in state waters – 4 years or more;
Scenario 4 – Any project on the OCS, non-competitive lease process – 3 years or more;
Scenario 5 – Any project on the OCS, competitive lease process – 6-8 years.

The length of the permitting process is dependent upon the type and location of the project, especially if the project is located in a sensitive area. In practice, very few MHK projects have completed the entire permitting process in the U.S., and the majority have exceeded these timeframes.

There is no single agency (“one stop shop” facility or entity) that is responsible for the entire ocean energy permitting process. FERC and BOEM are the two agencies with overarching authority over licensing and leasing activities in the U.S. The lead agency is dependent upon the location of the project and whether it will be connected to the grid. Multiple state agencies are also involved in the permitting process. For all projects located on the OCS (generally 3 nautical miles from shore to the exclusive economic zone boundary) BOEM must issue a least that allows the developer access to the site and FERC must issue a license for the project to move forward.

A National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is always required prior to any action taken by a federal agency.

NEPA was enacted to ensure that federal agencies evaluate potential environmental impacts of any proposed action and reasonable alternatives. As a result of an initial scoping process, the project either receives a Categorical Exclusion (CX), and Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The results of the NEPA analysis and multiple consultations that occur before leases and licenses are issued are often used to generate monitoring or mitigation requirements that must be implemented as a condition of the license. The FERC pilot project guidance places large emphasis on post-deployment environmental monitoring while the standard commercial licensing process places a larger emphasis on environmental studies conducted before the license application is filed.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directed the Department of Energy to work with the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce to develop a program to support research and demonstration and commercial application to expand the use of marine renewable energy sources. It also allowed for the establishment of the National Marine Renewable Energy Centers. There is no regulatory authority conveyed by this Act.

FERC carries out its regulatory authority under the Federal Power Act. In 2008 FERC developed a Guidance for Pilot Project Licensing to speed up the licensing process for demonstration projects. BOEM has also developed a set of regulations governing its OCS Renewable Energy Program.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided guidance for federal regulation of new renewable energy technologies in general and amended the OCS Lands Act to give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to regulate the production, transportation or transmission of renewable energy on the OCS. This authority was delegated to BOEM. Essentially, the Energy Policy Act conferred regulatory authority for hydrokinetics to both FERC and the Department of the Interior (DOI), but the law did not clearly specify the scope of each agency’s jurisdiction. To remedy this, the FERC and the DOI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2009 clarifying the scope of each agency’s respective responsibilities for regulating renewable energy projects on the OCS.

Executive Order 13514 “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance” called for the increased use of renewable energy by federal agencies and aligning federal policies to increase the effectiveness of local planning for locally generated renewable energy.

Plans for changing legal and administrative frameworks to facilitate development and more integrated marine governance: The Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013 proposed to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This act has been introduced to the U.S. Senate but has not received legislative or executive approval.

Consultation with various stakeholders and regulators is performed at multiple stages of the process.

Stakeholder consultation stars at the very beginning of project development, and public comment periods are incorporated into each of the regulatory stages. In order to receive a FERC license or a BOEM lease, a series of mandatory consultation are performed, usually in conjunction with the NEPA analysis.

Various reference materials are available to developers to provide additional details on the licensing process. These include FERC’s “Handbook for Hydroelectric Project Licensing”, “Hydrokinetic Pilot Project Criteria and Draft Application Checklist” provided by FERC, and the “Handbook of Hydrokinetic Regulatory Processes”.

The PacWave test site, to be built off the coast of Oregon, will generally be pre-permitted for most types of wave energy converters. However, there may still be additional regulatory processes or consultation needed prior to testing, particularly if the testing is supported by federal funds, which would require a NEPA analysis. Data collected at the site could also be shared to help accelerate the process for permitting in general.