Renewable Energy Discovery Island (REDi Island) is revolutionizing the way we explore and understand marine energy. With 15 different way stations, it offers a closer look at the vast potential of hydropower and its role in our clean energy future. Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Hydropower team and IKM 3D, REDi Island provides an educational resource for teachers, students, and renewable energy enthusiasts alike.
Marine energy holds immense power beneath the waves that crash on our coasts and in the predictable tides that rise and fall every day. If fully harnessed, this energy could contribute up to 60% of the US’s total energy generation in 2019. Even capturing a fraction of this potential could significantly meet our electricity needs.
The researchers at NREL are dedicated to unlocking this marine energy potential. They are developing cutting-edge technologies to harness tidal turbines, one of the most promising sources of marine energy. Tidal turbines capture the kinetic energy from the ebb and flow of tides to generate electricity. However, these devices face significant challenges due to their constant exposure to saltwater.
To ensure cost-effectiveness and durability, NREL researchers are working on creating strong and sustainable materials for tidal turbine components like blades. Their goal is to develop materials that can withstand harsh environments for up to 20 years underwater while also being recyclable at the end of their lifespan. One exciting material they are researching is a recyclable epoxy made from sugar or other biological substances. This innovation not only helps decarbonize the energy sector but also ensures long-lasting turbine performance.
Another breakthrough technology showcased at REDi Island is distributed integrated energy conversion technologies (DEEC-Tec). This patented technology allows small individual converters called DEECs to be merged into larger configurations capable of capturing wave, tide, and ocean current energies efficiently. These devices offer greater flexibility in installation locations and have the potential to significantly enhance the marine energy industry’s capacity.
Water scarcity is a global concern, especially in remote or coastal communities. NREL researchers are addressing this issue by developing wave-powered desalination systems. They have created the Hydraulic-Electric Reverse Osmosis (HERO) Wave Energy Converter (WEC), which utilizes the up and down motion of waves to generate hydraulic or electrical energy. This energy powers a reverse osmosis desalination system, providing clean drinking water for those in need.
REDi Island aims to expand its reach and impact by launching an interactive app that allows users to explore each way station virtually. Additionally, the NREL team plans to integrate video game features into the island, making it more engaging for younger children.
The importance of renewable energy education cannot be overstated. REDi Island serves as an invaluable tool for inspiring future generations to pursue careers in renewable energy and ensuring the sustainability of hydropower and marine energy industries.
The peak, Renewable Energy Discovery Island offers a unique opportunity to dive deep into marine energy capabilities. Through innovative technologies like tidal turbines, distributed integrated energy conversion technologies, and wave-powered desalination systems, we can tap into the immense power beneath our oceans’ surface. By exploring REDi Island’s various way stations virtually, we can gain a better understanding of how these technologies contribute to our clean energy future.
Sources say (link: REDi Island is an exceptional resource for learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professional development opportunities in marine energy. Stay informed about other fascinating research by subscribing to NREL’s hydropower newsletter, The Current.