North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program: Comprehensive Gulf Stream Ocean Energy Resource Assessment Using an Integrated Observing and Modeling Approach (FY 2017)

Sponsor:   UNC Coastal Studies Institute


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: John Bane, Sara Haines
University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute: Mike Muglia

Funding period

July 2016 – June 2017


Building on previous years’ research into developing a combined modeling -observational prediction system to guide the optimal development of ocean energy extraction from the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina (NC), this project will further develop the Integrated Observing- Modeling Prediction and Assessment System to support ocean hydrokinetic energy assessment. We will produce the best available quantitative descriptions of numerous aspects of the ocean environment that relate to power generation in the Gulf Stream along the NC continental slope and outer continental shelf. In addition to calculating the power levels in the Stream, we will continue gathering information that will be helpful in engineering design, environmental assessment, and developing an improved understanding of the character and causes of the current variability in this region. This last topic will be especially valuable in model predictions that are necessary for emplacement and operations of submarine power generating machinery. As in the past, we will continue to interface with the other groups in the Program, who are considering the environmental, geological, economic and other aspects of the Ocean Energy program.
The modeling system that we have used for ocean current and power estimation will be further improved upon, and we will continue making important and useful current measurements from mooring, ship transect surveys and HF Radar surface current measurements for model validation and for power generation estimations. The radar in particular will provide an essential tool to observe Gulf Stream high frequency variability, and infer spatial and temporal changes in Gulf Stream transport.


Work is in progress.

Papers produced in conjunction with this project:

Bane, J., R. He, M. Muglia, Y. Gong, and C. Lowcher (2017) Marine hydrokinetic energy from western boundary currents, Annual Review of Marine Science, 9:7.1-7.19, doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060423 [PDF]

Li, B., J. Bane, J. F. DeCarolis, R. He, V. Neary, A. R. de Queiroz, and A. G. Keeler (2017) The Economics of Ocean Current Energy: A Gulf Stream Case Study. In preparation for submission to Energy.

Lowcher, C., J. Bane, Y. Gong, S. Haines, R. He, and M. Muglia (2017) Marine Hydrokinetic Power in the Gulf Stream off North Carolina: An Assessment using Observations and Circulation Models.  A chapter submitted to Springer-Verlag.