U.S. Energy Department sends more than $7 million to back the development of marine energy projects. File Photo by UPI Photo/Earl S. Cryer | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Projects focused at the university level will share $7.4 million in research funds to develop components for marine energy, the U.S. Energy Department said.
The Energy Department said funding was made available to support the next generation of water power components necessary to support marine and hydrokinetic systems.
"Waves, tides, and ocean currents represent a largely untapped renewable energy resource that could provide clean, affordable energy to U.S. homes and businesses across the country," the department said in a statement. "Advancements in [these] technologies will help these devices effectively and sustainably harness increased amounts of renewable energy from marine environments."
The Energy Department in July deployed a wave energy prototype dubbed Azura at a test site at Kaneohe Bay off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Developer Northwest Energy Innovations, with help from a $5 million federal grant, tested an earlier prototype off the coast of Oregon in 2014.
The government said the pilot project in Hawaii will give federal researchers the chance to monitor a wave energy converter for potential commercial deployment.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a lease last year to Florida Atlantic University to test a turbine system driven by ocean currents.
With more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coastline, the government said marine and hydrokinetic technologies could provide an untapped renewable energy resource.
The latest funding release for low-carbon energy follows this week's publication of the final version of the Clean Power Plan, which set a goal of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by 32 percent of their 2005 baseline by 2030.
The U.S. government acknowledged marine and hydrokinetic technology is in its infancy. The British government said last year similar technology accounts for "only a tiny" fraction of global power, but is expected to expand more than tenfold by 2040, which much of the new generation coming from within the European Union.