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U.S. Senate Hearing on Offshore Energy Technologies Explores “Numerous Other Ways to Produce Energy in the Ocean”

The team at OceanBased Perpetual Energy watched with interest as U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ranking Democratic Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) presided over a U.S. Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing yesterday, September 22, 2020, to examine the development of emerging offshore energy technologies (like OceanBased Perpetual Energy), including renewable resources such as offshore wind and marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy.

“When most people hear the phrase ‘offshore energy,’ they think of offshore oil and gas, which make a substantial contribution to our economy and energy security.  But there are numerous other ways to produce energy in the ocean,” Murkowski said. “Coastal states have the opportunity to expand and reimagine their ocean-based economies with these technologies, and developing them will enable cleaner and more affordable energy for a wide range of communities.”

Murkowski also noted that from the wind and tidal energy capacities in Cook Inlet to the RivGen Power System now providing nearly half of the power used in the village of Igiugig, Alaska is an ideal proving ground for such technologies.

Dr. Walter Cruickshank of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management testified that securing offshore energy technologies such as wind, MHK, and the potential recovery of methane (gas) hydrates from the ocean floor “creates American jobs and promotes innovation in the United States.”

The hearing also included testimony from:

  • Daniel Simmons, the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy;
  • Stuart Davies, the CEO of Ocean Renewable Power Company, which developed and manufactured the technology utilized in Igiugig;
  • Siri Kindem, President of Equinor Wind US; and
  • Jonathan Lewis, Senior Counsel at the Clean Air Task Force, who urged immediate passage of the American Energy Innovation Act to expand research and development for zero-carbon fuels.

Senator Murkowski is Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Click here to access the archived video of yesterday’s hearing.

Click herehere and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.

Manchin: Marine Renewable Energy And Offshore Wind Will Advance Climate Solutions

Democratic Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued the following news release after the hearing:

  • To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.
  • To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – (Yesterday, September 22, 2020), the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine emerging offshore and marine energy technologies in the United States, including offshore wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy, and alternative fuels for maritime shipping. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Committee, highlighted that his bipartisan American Energy Innovation Act advances those technologies while reducing emissions and maintaining our nation’s position as a global energy leader.

“The American Energy Innovation Act will advance climate solutions across the four sectors of the economy that make up approximately 90% of our current greenhouse gas emissions. Advancing marine renewable energy and offshore wind technologies is part of that solution as well as authorizing much-needed research on the industrial equipment needed to make the shipping fuels of the future,” Ranking Member Manchin said. “In addition, the technologies we will be discussing today have the potential to create U.S. jobs for workers and communities that need a long-term lifeline. By identifying the policies and industries that will rebuild our manufacturing sector and reclaim our economic future, I believe we can help our workers and their families while reestablishing U.S. leadership in existing and entirely new energy markets.”

Ranking Member Manchin also raised concerns about the monopoly China holds over the supply chain of rare earth elements, which are critical in the manufacturing of offshore wind turbines.

“Unlike onshore wind turbines, which utilize a gearbox drive generator, offshore wind turbines rely on a very powerful magnet as a key component to a direct-drive generator. A direct-drive generator is more suitable to offshore wind due to its low-maintenance requirements. However, it also creates a supply chain vulnerability because the magnet is derived from a rare earth mineral called neodymium– which is mined almost exclusively in China. The wind turbines at the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island are equipped with a magnet that was made in Japan out of rare earth minerals originating in China. We have held several hearings in this committee about the monopoly China holds over the supply chain of rare earth elements and other critical minerals that are vital to future energy technologies,” Ranking Member Manchin said.

The hearing featured witnesses from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Ocean Renewable Power Company, Inc., Equinor Wind US, and the Clean Air Task Force. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.  

Murkowski, Sullivan Lead Senate Effort to Establish Offshore Revenue Sharing for Alaska

Last August 2019, Senators Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, along with Senators Bill Cassidy, R-La., John Kennedy, R-La., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., introduced new legislation to facilitate the equitable sharing of revenues from energy production in the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf.

The bill, entitled the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life (COASTAL) Act, includes a title written by Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to establish a revenue sharing program specific to Alaska to provide parity with other onshore and offshore development around the country. This program will provide resources to mitigate the impacts and infrastructure needs of development while providing benefits to the State, coastal political subdivisions, individual communities, and institutions of higher education.

“Revenue sharing has been a longstanding priority for many Alaskans and remains a matter of both fairness and parity for us,” Murkowski said. “We have significant offshore resources, the willingness and ability to responsibly produce them, and it is time to institute a framework that acknowledges our important role. I believe this bill is a strong starting point for a new dialogue and appreciate my colleagues’ support for including Alaska within it.”

“Considering the vast offshore resources available in Alaska, it is critical that we continue making strides towards responsible resource development while protecting the environment and the livelihoods of Alaskans,” Sullivan said. “This bill is a positive step in working towards a system where Alaskans receive their fair share of revenues and support for our coastal communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we seek to recognize the essential role that coastal states play in development offshore.”

The Alaska Outer Continental Shelf contains an estimated 27.3 billion barrels of oil and 131.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Under current law, however, Alaska would not receive any revenue from the development of those resources, outside of the nearshore areas designated under Section 8(g) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Four Gulf Coast states – Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas – currently receive a 37.5 percent share of revenues from energy produced in federal waters. The COASTAL Act increases that share to 50 percent, in line with the nearly 50 percent of revenues that most states receive from energy produced onshore on federal land. Alaska would likewise receive a 50 percent share of offshore revenues, with further allocations and uses delineated in the bill.

Senator Murkowski also Chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2019 as well