MIL-OSI USA: How NREL Researchers Are Catalyzing Change for Our Ocean and Climate

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Source: US National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Celebrate National Ocean Month With a Closer Look at NREL’s Water Power Champions

Every year, on World Ocean Day, we are reminded that a healthy climate requires healthy oceans—and vice versa—and any push toward a clean energy transition must take Earth’s oceans into account.

This year’s World Ocean Day focused on “Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate.” Naturally, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are already working to meet some of the challenges established by World Ocean Day organizers: making the best use of all existing climate solutions, accelerating a just transition to clean and renewable energy, and creating solutions at the local, national, and international levels that are based on the best science.

NREL conducts research across the water power spectrum, from work to advance renewable marine energy technologies to projects designed to support the burgeoning workforce needed to support these ocean-based renewables. Here are a few examples of how NREL researchers are catalyzing action for our ocean and climate.

Ben Maurer enjoys his work on the water. Photo by Ben Maurer, NREL

By targeting plastic pollution in rivers, we can intercept it before it profoundly affects our ecosystems, communities, or the ocean.”

— NREL researcher Ben Maurer, who serves as principal investigator of the Waterborne Plastics Assessment and Collection Technologies (WaterPACT) project

Read how WaterPACT is helping curb plastic ocean pollution before it happens.

For specific communities in particular places, marine energy could be a game changer.”

— NREL Graduate Intern Miguel González-Montijo on how marine hydrokinetic energy could help small towns in his native Puerto Rico build energy resilience

See how González-Montijo is using additive manufacturing to design more resilient turbine components.

Miguel González-Montijo works with Paul Murdy, his study’s principal investigator. Photo by Joe DelNero, NREL

Jennifer Daw (right) demonstrates water power career maps. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

There is a home for everyone in water power.”

— Jennifer Daw, a senior researcher and group manager at NREL who is spearheading a number of initiatives aimed at reinforcing the water power workforce

See how new NREL-developed career maps are helping job seekers understand the breadth of careers available in water power.

Something about climate change bothered me … I really wanted to be a part of finding some sort of solution.”

— NREL researcher Alec Schnabel on how his skills and passions led him to a job in marine energy

Read Alec’s Beneath the Surface profile to learn more about how his power electronics expertise is making waves in marine energy technology.

Alec Schnabel works with a power electronics setup. Photo by Alec Schnabel, NREL

Collegiate competition participants discuss water power solutions. Photo by Taylor Mankle, NREL

We designed these competitions as a way for students to challenge themselves, grow their professional skills, and take a closer look at all the ways water power can play a pivotal role in our clean energy future.”

— NREL senior project leader Elise DeGeorge, on the Hydropower and Marine Energy Collegiate Competitions

Learn more about recent competition winners and the 36 teams that will make connections, build their resumes, and compete for cash in the 2025 events.

When times get tough, it’s good to be flexible.”

— James Niffenegger on hexagonal distributed embedded energy converters (or hexDEECs) and their potential applications in marine energy

See how NREL’s patented hexDEEC technology could enable flexible marine energy technologies that can withstand the unforgiving conditions of the ocean.

James Niffenegger works on flexible technologies for marine energy. Photo by Joe DelNero, NREL

Happy National Ocean Month from all of us at NREL!

Learn more about NREL’s water power research, and subscribe to the NREL water power newsletter, The Current, to stay up to date on exciting developments in marine energy and hydropower research.