A ‘wetlab’ could put Mass. in the lead in ocean energy race  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Boston Globe has an article on the benefits of a "wetlab" for testing ocean energy - A ‘wetlab’ could put Mass. in the lead in ocean energy race.

If you want to build an iPhone app or develop a drug for Alzheimer’s disease, finding the place to do it isn’t a challenge. Massachusetts is dotted with incubators, accelerators, labs, and co-working spaces where you can rent a desk by the day. ...

But if you want to drop a tidal generator into the briny deep, or plunk a prototype wind turbine onto the continental shelf, you will inevitably face a few years of permit wrangling with a half-dozen federal and state agencies. Testing new renewable energy technologies isn’t cheap, fast, or easy.

John R. Miller would like to change that. As director of the Marine Renewable Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, he’s campaigning for the creation of a vast saltwater incubator in the channel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and the ocean waters south of the islands.

Technically, the project is being called the National Renewable Energy Innovation Zone. I prefer to think of the rectangular area as the Big Wetlab: a place where entrepreneurs and big energy companies can beta test the energy technologies of the future, sooner and with fewer hassles than they’d face anywhere else. (In the world of drug development, wetlabs are where all the important experiments are done.)

If Miller is successful — and the project recently landed $1.5 million in new federal grants — the Big Wetlab could be among the first test areas in the United States, positioning Massachusetts at the center of the emerging clean-tech economy.

“Having an area like that, which has been pre-approved for wave, tidal, and offshore wind testing, would be a huge thing that this country needs,’’ says Bill Staby, cofounder of Resolute Marine Energy Inc. “If Massachusetts can grab the ring, you’ll see a greater number of marine energy technology companies locate here, because companies want to be closer to their test sites.’’

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