U.S. Department of Energy Awards $16 Million to 17 Organizations Including UMaine for Projects


The University of Maine is one of 17 recipients to split $16 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund projects related to efficiently capturing energy from waves, tides and currents.

The projects are expected to increase the power production and reliability of wave and tidal devices and help collect data on how deployed devices interact with the surrounding environment, according to a Department of Energy press release issued Thursday, Aug. 29.

“Wave and tidal energy represent a large, untapped resource for the United States and responsible development of this clean, renewable energy source is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson in the statement.

The UMaine project is one of seven “Environmental Monitoring of Marine and Hydrokinetic Projects” under the funding. The $494,000 project received $394,000 from the Department of Energy to use data on fish interactions with Ocean Renewable Power Company’s TidGen Power System in Cobscook Bay, Maine to predict the probability of fish naturally encountering deployed energy devices.

The project will build on research that began in 2009 that established baseline patterns of fish abundance and distribution at the turbine location, according to the project proposal.

The funding will allow the project to provide post‐deployment data for comparison, improve techniques for distinguishing between fish species using undersea acoustic sensors, and implement a probability‐of‐encounter model. The research will also aid in the assessment and understanding of the effects of marine and hydrokinetic devices on local fish populations, the press release states.

Gayle Zydlewski, associate professor and researcher in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences and member of the Maine Tidal Power Initiative, is the principal investigator of the project which is expected to last two years and include five researchers under the DOE funding.

“This funding will enable our research team to provide quantitative data on fish behavior in tidally dynamic regions and how fish interact with a tidal power device that’s not being collected anywhere else in the U.S. or globally,” Zydlewski says. “In addition, it will allow us to retrospectively analyze data to enhance their utility for natural resource decision makers.”

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747