Measuring the Impact of Tidal Power Installations on Endangered Beluga Whales

Project Overview
Positive Impact: Measuring environmental impacts of tidal power.
Ocean Renewable Power Company is studying the effects of tidal power on beluga whales.
Locations: Alaska
Partners: Ocean Renewable Power Company
EERE Investment: $600,000
Clean Energy Sector: Renewable electricity generationPDF

With EERE support, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) is conducting a two-year study on the effects of tidal turbines on endangered beluga whales in Cook Inlet, Alaska—home to some of the greatest tidal energy potential in the United States. To successfully permit and operate the tidal power project in Cook Inlet, ORPC must conduct a rigorous biological assessment of the potential and realized effects that the tidal turbines' physical presence and sound footprint could have on the distribution, relative abundance, and behavior of the whales. Prior to conducting the assessments, ORPC will collect baseline data at the proposed deployment areas near Fire Island and at the initial pilot project site near East Foreland. Researchers will compare measurement technologies and visual observation techniques and, based on the assessment results, will recommend a best practice for future data collection. When complete, this study will help the tidal industry understand the potential impacts of tidal energy projects on the belugas, which will inform future siting and operation decisions.

The Water Power Program is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides.

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