History and Future of Ocean Energy (2016-2017)


As technological developments have better enabled us to understand and exploit ocean common-pool resources, the ocean’s economic potential will continue to be harnessed in new ways to meet demands for energy, food security, minerals, pharmaceuticals and other emerging needs. The ocean also represents a significantly less visible, highly interconnected and more difficult environment to manage than most terrestrial systems. The surge in ocean renewable energy technologies and newfound hydrocarbon reserves make this issue an emerging one that also has a significant history.

Project Description

This project team will focus on such topics as common-pool resource control, engineering, technology, regulation, corporate policies and environmental stewardship. Through discussions and activities, individual research and writing as well as interaction with collaborators, team members will assess the consequences of human decisions on deep-sea mining, traditional oil/gas development, renewable energy sources, new technologies and governance of “high-seas” ocean energy resources.

The team will also explore the energy response of a standard ocean buoy based on its geometry in an aquatic environment (e.g., wave tank tests and ocean tests at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC), examine the environmental aspects of ocean energy harvesting and translate this knowledge into a practical design where measurement using sensors and testing can occur in an iterative cycle.

Anticipated Outcomes

The team plans to produce an interactive ocean energy catalog, which could include the history of ocean energy development; types of energy currently available or envisioned; relevant institutions and their roles; sustainability implications; development opportunities for lower-income coastal and island states; as well as further development of an interactive story map of current and planned ocean energy development. Other outcomes include connecting the energy development map with important ecological and economic systems and designing, testing and evaluating newly engineered systems for harvesting ocean energy. Team members will write policy memos on relevant topics.


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes to Date

Best Management Practices for Developing Offshore Wind Energy in the United States (Hannah Derrick, Imani Dorsey, Leah Louis-Prescott, Jeannie McKinney, Genevieve Valladao, Nikila Vasudevan)

Designing an Energy Harvesting Buoy (Ashley Blawas, Kip Coonley, Brandon Dalla Rosa, Kelsey Evezich, Brent Hermiller, Nicholas Naclerio, Dane Sequeira, Trevyn Toone, Justin Wang, Martin Brooke, Brian Mann, Doug Nowacek)

This Team in the News

Student Laurels and Honors for 2017

Students Present Their Research and Learn from Each Other at the Bass Connections Showcase

Twelve Students Receive Grants to Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

Dorsey’s Passion off the Pitch

See earlier related team, History and Future of Ocean Energy (2015-2016).


Faculty/Staff Team Members

Lori Bennear, Nicholas School - Environmental Sciences & Policy*
Martin Brooke, Pratt School - Electrical & Computer Engineering*
Jay Golden, Nicholas School - Earth & Ocean Sciences*
Brian Mann, Pratt School - Mechanical Engineering & Material Science*
Jonas Monast, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Douglas Nowacek, Nicholas School - Marine Science & Conservation*
John Virdin, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions*

Graduate Team Members

Noelle DeStefano, Nicholas School - PhD in Environment
Jeannie McKinney, Sanford School - Master of Public Policy

Undergraduate Team Members

Ashley Blawas, Biomedical Engineering
Brandon Dalla Rosa, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Hannah Derrick, Environmental Sciences (BS)
Monika Dharia, Environmental Sciences (BS), Economics (AB2)
Imani Dorsey, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
Connor Guest, Mechanical Engineering
Brandon Hull, Economics (AB)
Samuel Kelly, Mechanical Engineering
Samuel Pickerill, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
Trevyn Toone, Biology (AB), Earth & Ocean Sciences (AB2)
Genevieve Valladao, Earth & Ocean Sciences (BS)
Nikila Vasudevan, Biomedical Engineering
Justin Wang, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Computer Science (AB2)

Community Team Members

John Young, Continental Shelf Associates

* denotes team leader