US Department of Energy issues $13.5m funding for environmental data development

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $13.5 million in funding to provide environmental and wildlife data to support offshore wind development. DOE is funding four projects that will inform offshore wind siting and permitting, and help protect wildlife and fisheries as offshore wind deployment increases.

“Harnessing the incredible potential that exists within offshore wind energy is an essential piece of reaching a net-zero carbon future,”
said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “In order for Americans living in coastal areas to see the benefits of offshore wind, we must ensure that it’s done with care for the surrounding ecosystem by co-existing with fisheries and marine life – and that’s exactly what this investment will do.”

“This partnership illustrates the Administration’s all-of-government approach to achieve our ambitious clean energy goals, including deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030,"
said the Department of the Interior’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. "We are committed to working with our federal partners to ensure that we have the best available science to inform future decisions to help reduce impacts to marine life and other ocean users.”

Two selected projects will support wildlife and fisheries monitoring efforts on the East Coast. The other two projects are focused on preparing the West Coast for floating offshore wind development by collecting wildlife distribution data and developing tools to monitor the environmental effects of floating offshore wind energy. The selectees are:  
  • Duke University and team (Durham, NC) will assess the risk that offshore wind development may pose to birds, bats, and marine mammals; prioritize wildlife monitoring needs; and collect biological and behavioural data at offshore wind farms on the East Coast. (Award amount: $7.5 million)
  • Coonamessett Farm Foundation and partners (East Falmouth, MA) will survey changes in commercial fish and marine invertebrate populations and seafloor habitats at an offshore wind development site on the East Coast. (Award amount: $3.3 million)
  • Oregon State University (Newport, OR) will conduct visual surveys and acoustic monitoring of marine mammals and seabirds to develop predictive density maps of species present in potential wind energy development areas on the West Coast. (Award amount: $2 million)
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, MA) will develop next-generation autonomous robotic technology for environmental monitoring of marine organisms and the seafloor at potential wind energy development areas on the West Coast. (Award amount: $750,000)  
  • This opportunity is jointly funded by DOE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) within the US Department of the Interior. It was developed under the National Oceanographic Partnership Program in coordination with BOEM, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Energy Commission, and the California Ocean Protection Council.