In response, the NRC formed the Committee on Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology Assessment, which has begun its review of the resource assessments.
In this letter report, the committee responds to its charge of writing an interim report assessing the methodologies, technologies, and assumptions associated with the wave and tidal energy resource assessments. The DOE specifically requested that these two MHK resource assessments be evaluated in the interim report and that the committee’s final report also cover the three other assessments—those on free-flowing water in rivers and streams, on marine temperature gradients, and on ocean currents. Attachment A contains the committee’s statement of task. Attachment B presents biographical information on the committee members.
The committee presents this letter report, in accord with the statement of task, as its preliminary assessment of methodologies and assumptions used in the estimation of wave and tidal resources. The committee’s review is based on the presentations that it received from the wave resource assessment group (which consists of the Electric Power Research Institute [EPRI] working with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [Virginia Tech] and National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL]) and the tidal resource assessment group (consisting of Georgia Institute of Technology [Georgia Tech] working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL]). These presentations were made at the committee’s first two meetings, in November 2010 and February 2011. The committee also received presentations from the DOE as well as written information submitted by all five of the resource assessment groups.
Although the wave resource and tidal resource assessment groups will eventually release final reports, their reports were not available for the development of this interim report. Thus, the committee believes that it is important to complete its interim letter report at this point, not only for the letter report’s potential impact with respect to the wave resource and tidal resource assessments, but also to provide timely feedback to the other assessment groups. The committee will continue to review the methodologies and assumptions that are used in all five of the assessments, as it completes its study and writes its final report (currently scheduled for completion in the spring of 2012).
In the sections that follow, the committee first describes the motivation for and purpose of this report. It then presents the conceptual framework of the overall MHK resource assessment process that it developed in order to have a consistent, clear set of definitions and a framework for assessing the approaches of the individual groups. The committee’s evaluation of the wave resource assessment and of the tidal resource assessment is presented in the next two sections, with conclusions and recommendations in each. A final section on overarching conclusions completes the body of the report.