The National Renewable Energy Laboratory Reveals New Marine Energy Atlas

The new Marine Energy Atlas reveals the U.S. wave resource in unprecedented detail. Here we see wave heights offshore of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (darker colors indicate larger waves). (Image credit: Marine Energy Atlas)

The promise of marine energy is seemingly boundless—and thanks to a recently upgraded tool powered by new high-resolution data sets, users can pinpoint promising sites.

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) resource characterization team and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office, the Marine Energy Atlas (formerly MHK Atlas) will support everything from project siting to device design via access to uniquely high-resolution and spatially comprehensive data sets.

The recently released Marine Energy Atlas features several new upgrades to modernize and streamline the user-friendly interface while supporting higher-resolution data. The new high-resolution wave data sets were developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, North Carolina State University, and University of Hawai’i under a project led by NREL. These enhancements will boost both the usability and the value of this important marine energy tool.

Meeting Marine Energy Community Data Needs

The Marine Energy Atlas is an interactive mapping tool developed by NREL to explore potential for marine energy resources. Powered by multilab, high-resolution data sets, the atlas maps U.S. wave, tidal, riverine current, ocean current, and ocean thermal resources.

Users can explore several variables in each of these resource types, such as wave height, wave period, wave direction, tidal and ocean current speeds, and more, by selecting data layers.

The needs of the wider marine energy community are central to the design and functionality of the Marine Energy Atlas. The multilab resource characterization team engages the marine energy community to identify data gaps and then runs models and completes measurements to produce the data that is presented in this unique, publicly accessible tool.

Project developers can use the tool to locate potential project sites, and technology developers can employ the atlas to download data for sites for which they are designing technology.

By producing—and making accessible—the highly valuable data that is central to technology and project design, the Marine Energy Atlas can help advance the entire marine energy industry.

Upgrades for a Smooth-Sailing User Experience

Central to the Marine Energy Atlas is its user-friendly interface. Users can download high-resolution data in a range of formats with the click of a button.

The team worked to reconfigure the front end of the site. A few adjustments include:

  • A search bar for quickly finding layers
  • Back-end upgrades to support visualizing the high-resolution data sets
  • Tools to download timeseries and other very large pieces of the underlying data
  • Simultaneous layer and legend view
  • And a new sleek and modern interface

In addition to these functionality upgrades, new data sets are being added to the tool on a rolling basis, expanding the coverage and resolution of what the Marine Energy Atlas provides.

Offering Hands-On Learning

The Marine Energy Atlas could help a device designer understand how well their device is suited for a particular part of the ocean or could help a project identify promising sites for building wave farms.

Want to learn more about how you can leverage the power of the Marine Energy Atlas for your next marine energy project? Join us for the webinar, “Introducing the New Marine Energy Atlas” on May 27 at 10–11:30 a.m. MDT. The open-to-the-public event will cover upgrades to the interactive mapping tool and how users can explore potential for marine energy resources, such as peak wave period, tidal and ocean current speeds, and more.

Chart your course to marine energy innovation; the Marine Energy Atlas can guide you there.

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