Renewable Ocean Energy

Research Focus Aea
Research Focus Area Overview

Society’s reliance on fossil fuels is not sustainable. Developing novel approaches of generating electrical power without fossil fuel use, is critical. Research related to harnessing energy from the “motion of the ocean” is in its infancy. However, our researchers are examining the possibility of harnessing ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, and waves to provide clean energy, as well as the possible environmental implications. This cutting-edge research, including field and modeling approaches, aims to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels while simultaneously providing for the energy needs of an ever-growing coastal population.

Research Labs

Oceanography & Marine Hydrokinetic Energy Ocean Lab
Coupled Human-Natural Coastal Systems Lab
Coastal Engineering & Adaptation
Coastal Marine Processes & Geomorphology Lab
Human Dimensions
of the Coast
Marine Geochemistry & Coastal Dynamics Lab
Coasts & Oceans Observing

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


ECU’s Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU’s Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.




The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


The CSI Board of Directors consists of professionals with strong backgrounds in coastal issues including research, development, outreach, education, and policies that affect coastal communities. The Board promotes the UNC System’s mission in helping it serve the people of North Carolina at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor at the Coastal Studies Institute. The Board meets twice a year to discuss the projects and progress of CSI.


Contact Us

Contact Info

The Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345
Wanchese, NC 27981



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