The Triton Initiative is reducing barriers to testing marine energy devices by researching and developing monitoring technologies and methods to understand potential environmental impacts.

Triton logo over waves

Marine energy is a broad term for harnessing the power of the ocean’s tides, waves, and currents to produce a clean, consistent source of electricity. Wave energy alone has the potential to provide 2.64 trillion kilowatthours, or 64 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  

A key to development and widespread use of this renewable resource is understanding environmental impacts of marine energy systems to help streamline permitting processes and progress the industry in an environmentally responsible manner. To address these needs, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office developed the Triton Initiative, or Triton. 

PNNL leads Triton from the Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory at PNNL-Sequim, which is DOE's only marine research laboratory. 

Illustration of marine energy devices and environmental monitoring technologies. Illustration by Stephanie King.
Environmental monitoring technologies for studying Triton Field Trials stressor research topics, including underwater noise, collision risk, electromagnetic fields, and changes in habitat.
(Illustration by Stephanie King | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Triton explores the best methods and technology for environmental monitoring around marine energy devices in support of industry partners. Triton projects focus on underwater noise, electromagnetic field measurements, studies of marine animal interaction, changes in marine habitats, and integrated marine sensor packages. This research ranges from monitoring animal behavior around tidal turbines to distinguishing between natural and device noise sources.   

If just one-tenth of the available marine energy resources in the United States were utilized, it would equate to 5.7% of our nation’s current electricity generation—enough energy to power 22-million homes. (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2020)

Members of the Triton team introduce the project and Triton Field Trials research in the Triton Talks webinar series.

Triton researchers strive to improve the technical performance of environmental monitoring devices with testing and development. The objective of this work is to reduce the costs of these technologies and to help streamline the marine energy industry’s environmental permitting processes. 

Triton’s projects and innovative solutions for the marine energy industry help ensure the deployment of marine energy devices is safe and environmentally sustainable. 

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