In today's hearing we will explore the role of the Federal government and industry in developing technologies related to marine and hydrokinetic energy generation.
These technologies include devices which harness energy from waves, tidal, ocean and river currents, and ocean thermal gradients. Development of related environmental monitoring technologies is critical for appropriate implementation of these emerging technologies.
Studies have estimated that approximately 10 percent of U.S. national electricity demand may be met through energy generation from river in-stream sites, tidal in-stream sites, and wave generation. This projection does not include ocean thermal energy, ocean currents or other distributed energy generation from man-made water systems.
While there is huge potential for energy from these technologies in the U.S., the U.K. has been referred to as the world leader in ocean energy development by the International Energy Agency and the Electric Power Research Institute.
The world renowned testing facilities of the European Marine Energy Centre are at the forefront of technology development, and are the premier test bed and information center for policymakers, academia, and U.S. companies with new technologies.
The U.S. became involved in marine renewable energy research in 1974 and enacted two laws on ocean thermal energy in 1980. The Congress did not authorize significant research on these technologies until the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Since then DOE has built-up a modest portfolio of marine energy RD&D activities within the Wind and Hydropower program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This program has received a small amount of funding and issued a variety of small awards to fulfill its statutory obligations.
In my home state of Washington, DOE has funded OpenHydro, a tidal technology developer based in Ireland and selected by the Snohomish County Public Utility District to design and install a tidal energy pilot plant in Admiralty Inlet. I am glad we have a representative of Snohomish here with us today so we can hear about this project which is expected to begin operation as early as 2011, and will produce up to 1 MW of energy - enough to power roughly 700 homes.
With few exceptions marine and hydrokinetic technologies will need to be competitive in the marketplace if they are to be widely deployed. Therefore, I am especially interested to hear from our witnesses about the current and projected costs of electricity generated from marine and hydrokinetic technologies, and how a more robust federal program might help in bringing those costs down.
With that, I'd like to thank this excellent panel of witnesses for appearing before the Subcommittee this morning, and I yield to our distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Inglis, for his opening remarks.