Marine Environmental Compliance Cost Assessment

U.S. Marine Energy Developer’s Projects. Numbers link project information to location.

As an emerging industry, marine energy (ME) faces distinct challenges in getting projects permitted and deployed. This project developed a comprehensive understanding of the challenges associated with the environmental permitting and compliance process and further developed strategies for overcoming them. From 2016-2020, the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)-led team conducted discussions with project developers to collect detailed, quantitative environmental compliance (EC) cost information (direct costs, time, and resources) associated with permitting/licensing, and monitoring and compliance of ME projects. Deep dives with ME developers and regulatory agencies elicited their perspectives on the permitting process, and combined with the EC cost analysis, helped identify opportunities to improve the permitting process. The project team also reviewed other more mature energy and marine industries (offshore oil and gas, offshore and onshore wind, onshore solar, and subsea power and data cables) to obtain perspectives on permitting and regulatory lessons learned.

Findings were shared with regulators and developers through workshops and webinars to explore costs, experiences, and recommendations, leading to 6 strategies and 24 actions on national and project-levels to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the permitting and compliance processes. Collaboration enabled the project team to refine these strategies and actions to maximize their potential effect. The project’s final phase focused on implementing one of the actions prioritized through stakeholder feedback; whereby the Sandia-led team developed two collaborative workgroups to address research needs for acoustic and benthic interactions with ME deployments.

The overall goals of the project were too:

  • Create efficiencies in ME environmental permitting by identifying research and process innovations supporting both industry and regulatory agencies

  • Get the technology to market by helping reduce time and costs to achieve environmental compliance with federal, state, and local regulations

  • Encourage development of ME projects by increasing the sectors understanding and predictability of environmental compliance costs to, in turn, increase stakeholder and regulator confidence and lower the risk for ME project deployments

Jesse Roberts

Phone: (505) 967-6974

Email: Jesse Roberts