April 5th and 6th marked the 7th annual North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Project (NCROEP) Symposium at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) in Wanchese, NC. NCROEP is an ongoing partnership led by CSI in consort with the Colleges of Engineering at NC State University, NC A&T, UNC Charlotte, and East Carolina University that serves to catalyze strategic research and advancement of renewable ocean energy technology in North Carolina. NCROEP also includes a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) comprised of experts in the energy and offshore infrastructure fields to provide guidance and advice for funding projects and strategic direction of the overall project. Outcomes of this year’s symposium included the identification of specific markets for micro-grid application of renewable marine energy; new connections between scientists for collaborative research and data exchange opportunities; and notable progress in several of the program’s main research foci.
NCROEP Research Foci:
- Gulf Stream Power Assessment
- Improve the Efficiency, Maintenance and Power Outputs of Renewable Ocean Energy
- Environmental and Regulatory Assessment
- Marine Hydrokinetic Device Field Testing and Assessment
Alejandro Moreno, Director of the Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), delivered the keynote presentation and was instrumental in identifying several niche maritime markets of DOE interest in which marine energy harvesting could be implemented without the requirement of grid-scale connectivity. Powering ocean sensors, underwater data collection, offshore aquaculture operations, desalination facilities, and marine mineral extraction are all examples of such markets. This is significant because it provides real-world scenarios in which hydrokinetic energy harvesting devices can be piloted, monitored, and refined at a manageable scale.
CSI scientists, Mike Muglia and Dr. Lindsay Dubbs, were among the researchers whom the TAC commended for making large strides since the 2017 NCROEP Symposium. Muglia’s efforts to characterize the power and flow of the Gulf Stream resource using a custom research vessel are important for siting future power generation devices that are being developed by other NCROEP scientists. Dubbs’ research provided an integrative ecological and environmental assessment of the Gulf Stream current environment off the coast of Cape Hatteras by looking at macroalgae communities and the food webs they support. Ecological research helps to characterize potential impacts that ocean energy harvesting devices may have on critical marine habitats and ecosystems off the NC coast. The impact to seabed sediment where devices are moored is an additional environmental consideration that was examined and presented by other researchers.
Improving the efficiency, maintenance, and power outputs of renewable energy devices is a cornerstone focus of the NCROEP. Development of magnetic gearing technology has been central to the program since its
inception, as low-cost construction, overload protection, and maintenance-free components are essential for any device placed in the deep-water environment. Scientists Dr. Wesley Williams of UNC Charlotte and Dr. Jonathan Bird, now of Portland State University, are jointly developing this cutting-edge technology, which is supported by DOE and CSI. In his presentation, Williams emphasized that magnetic gearing technology is applicable beyond the scope of ocean energy, and may also prove to be central in technological advancements in other challenging environments of interest, like Outer Space.
NCROEP Director Emeritus, Dr. Billy Edge, welcomed Symposium participants and Interim Director, Dr. Mo Gabr, outlined expectations, and accomplishments. Over two days, seventeen oral presentations by faculty and students were given on the following subjects: Hydrokinetic Resource Assessment, Environmental Impact, and Economic Aspects, Innovative System Components: Development and Optimization, Electrical Interface and Power Transmission, and Mooring and Anchoring. Researchers were present from UNCC, NC State University, CSI, and UNC-Chapel Hill, plus entities and universities outside the UNC system. Students were invited to display their own research in a poster hall and competition yielding 19 entries and three prizewinners. Micropiles for Anchoring Marine Hydrokinetics Off The North Carolina Coast: Grout Durability, by Francisco W. Jativa, won first place.
The 7th annual NCROEP Symposium successfully enabled collaboration between related research topics, highlighted significant achievements made over the last year, and aided in the identification of remaining data
gaps and next step research. Development of hydrokinetic energy harvesting tools for specific non-grid level maritime markets is a specific research area likely to gain momentum as a result of collaboration and discourse sparked at the 2018 NCROEP Symposium.
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is a dedicated panel of industry professionals providing cross-disciplinary expertise in the energy and offshore infrastructure fields. TAC reviews all symposium presentations, provides guidance and advice for funding projects, and assists with the strategic direction of the overall project.
NCROEP TAC members:
- Bill Staby, Founder/CEO, Resolute Marine Energy – in attendance
- Susan Skemp, Executive Director Emeritus, Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, FAU – in attendance
- Richard Mercier, Director and Professor, Offshore Technology Research Center, Texas A&M Univ – in attendance
- Jonathan Colby, Director of Technology Performance, Verdant Power – in attendance
- John Hardin, Executive Director, Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation (OSTI), North Carolina Department of Commerce
- Jim Rispoli, Professor of Practice, Center for Nuclear Energy Facilities and Structures, NC State University
- Karin Lynn, Captain (retired), US Navy
Student Poster Competition Winners:
1st PLACE – Micropiles for Anchoring Marine Hydrokinetics Off The North Carolina Coast: Grout Durability – Francisco W. Jativa
2nd PLACE -An Investigation of MHK Structure Stability with Respect to Sediment Transport – Hanieh Mohamadi Moghadam
3rd PLACE – Hybrid High Voltage AC/DC System Protection & Controls – Bhaskar Mitra, Rasik Sarup, Faria Kamal, Arunodai Chanda, Badrul Chowdhury and Madhav Manjrekar