The Human Dimensions of Tidal Energy
Lekelia D. Jenkins, University of Washington
Devices capable of harnessing tidal hydrokinetic energy (i.e., the energy in the currents associated with the rise and fall of ocean tides) are nearing commercial readiness. However, the tools to assess large-scale, sustainable use of tidal energy are underdeveloped and a comprehensive synthesis of pilot project results has not been completed. In order to fill this knowledge gap, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Washington are developing scenarios for large-scale electricity generation from tidal currents in order to balance the benefits of predictable, renewable power generation against engineering feasibility, environmental compatibility, and societal concerns. Specifically, the social science component of the project examines public values and perceptions of tidal energy and also explores the potential for anticipatory governance of tidal energy. Anticipatory governance involves an innovative set of techniques for engaging latent stakeholder communities, identifying potential unintended consequences, and proactively integrating societal concerns into the research and development process. These areas of study align well with the key issues identified by the International Network for Social Studies of Marine Energy (ISSMER). Recognizing that the human dimensions of marine renewable energy is a particularly under-explored area, this group of social scientists, humanists, and artists from North America and Europe met in 2012 to set a research agenda to fill this deficit. The research being undertaken at the University of Washington with the Puget Sound as a case study will make significant strides in fulfilling this research agenda.
Background Review Articles:
Benaka, L.R., Cimo, L. F., and Jenkins, L.D. 2012. Bycatch Provisions in the Reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act. Marine Fisheries Review. 74(2):1-12. spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/mfr742/mfr7421.pdf
Jenkins, L.D. 2012. Reducing sea turtle by catch in trawl nets: A history of NMFS turtle excluder device (TED) research. Marine Fisheries Review. 74(2): 26-44. spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/mfr742/mfr7423.pdf