The project will include field tests to investigate the risks that these kinds of power generation can have on the environment and wildlife.

The bulk of the funding - US$3.45m - allows PNNL to examine the environmental impacts of marine and hydrokinetic power. Marine power includes power harnessed from the flux of ocean tides and waves, while hydrokinetic refers to power generated from flowing freshwater without dams.

The project will prioritise the risks that these kinds of power generation can have on the environment and wildlife; conduct laboratory and field experiments to further investigate certain risks; and predict the long-term impact of full-scale energy installations.

"Understanding how harnessing marine and hydrokinetic energy can affect the environment is key," said Charlie Brandt, Director of PNNL's Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Wash. "This work will help remove the roadblocks that currently prevent developers from putting tidal, wave and current powered machines in the water."