IBM is putting its software to work on behalf of wave energy, evaluating how much noise it makes in the ocean in real time. The goal is to understand and minimize the environmental impact of wave energy.
IBM is working with Ireland’s Sustainable Energy Authority. The country has one of highest concentrations of wave energy in the world.
"While the issue of environmentally sound, renewable energy resources is clearly of global importance, the demand in Ireland is particularly great," says Katharine Frase, IBM Vice President of Industries Research. "In 2010, Ireland imported approximately 86% of its energy, the vast majority of which was fossil fuels, and the European Renewables Directive has set a target for Ireland to source 16% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020."
This is the first project to use real-time streaming analytics to monitor underwater noise generated by wave energy conversion devices. IBM will employ sensing platforms, a communications infrastructure, and advanced stream analytics using cloud computing.
The EU has set underwater noise limits in its marine environmental policy, but there are no established global standards for how much noise is generated by wave energy devices or what their effect is on the marine ecosystem.
"Underwater noise is a global environmental issue that has to be addressed if we are to take advantage of the huge potential of ocean energy," says Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.
The project will build on the SmartBay pilot, which successfully monitors wave conditions, acoustics, marine life and pollution levels. Development of a full scale, grid connected test site on the west coast of Ireland is underway.
When fully operational, the system will produce one of the largest continuous collections of underwater acoustic data ever captured. This data will be made available to marine researchers and regulatory agencies to further advance knowledge of natural and man-made underwater sound, and help develop standards and reporting, benefitting marine environmental agencies as well as industries including renewable energy, shipping, and offshore oil and gas.
Ultimately, the team hopes to establish foundational platforms for comprehensive ocean energy monitoring with deep analytics that will tie in to smartgrid technologies.
This project is supported by a grant issued under the Ocean Energy Industry Prototype fund, administered by the Ocean Energy Development Unit in the Sustainable Energy Authority.
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