A SEAT at the global table: Environmental modeling software endorsed by the Ocean Decade

June 6, 2024 12:39 pm Published by
Figure: Example of a SEAT output showing risk of potential changes in seabed dynamics (i.e., erosion or deposition) caused by modified wave and circulation forces induced by a WEC array interacting with local sediment bed composition.

Sandia National Laboratories’ Spatial Environmental Assessment Toolkit has received an endorsement from the United Nations Ocean Decade program. The Ocean Decade, a global alliance for ocean science and innovation established by the United Nations, recognizes the value of SEAT to assess the environmental effects of marine renewable energy deployments.

SEAT is a powerful series of integrated open-source tools designed specifically for evaluating the potential environmental risks associated with marine energy development projects. This is crucial for ensuring the responsible development of renewable ocean energy sources like wave and current energy converters and limiting unintended consequences on marine ecosystems. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, SEAT was designed to help developers optimize project layouts to maximize energy generation while minimizing undesirable environmental effects.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized by such a great organization that is doing so much to ensure the health of our oceans,” said Sandia’s Jesse Roberts, the SEAT project’s principal investigator. The Ocean Decade’s endorsement highlights the merit of SEAT to help achieve a healthy and productive ocean, one of the primary goals of the Ocean Decade initiative.

With the the Ocean Decade’s backing, the SEAT team expects increased collaboration with international researchers and access to a wider range of marine data. This will support more comprehensive environmental assessments and expand best practices for sustainable ocean energy production. “It’s our hope that SEAT can contribute significantly to the Ocean Decade’s mission to create ‘transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean,’” Roberts said. 

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