An open data effort: facilitating R&D

28 July 2014



An easy-to-use, secure, online environment for sharing data looks set to facilitate and expedite R&D efforts by the US Department of Energy and its national laboratories. This data sharing initiative will have an impact on the advancement of marine and hydrokinetic technologies; striving for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing among domestic and international industry members, developers and researchers.


It is well understood that timely access to research data is critical to fostering innovation. In a recent White House memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies, Dr. John Holden stated, "Access to digital data sets resulting from federally funded research allows companies to focus resources and efforts on understanding and exploiting discoveries" (Holden 2013).

In an effort to improve future data management and access, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Programme is standing up a Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) Data Repository on OpenEI (Open Energy Information) to manage the receipt, protection, and dissemination of scientific and technical data generated by DOE funded awards.

The DOE Water Power Programme funds competitively-selected, cost shared research &development (R&D) activities with industry and academia, and directs work at DOE's national laboratories in order to advance the development of MHK systems and component technologies that increase energy capture and reliability and lower the cost of energy. Through these R&D investments, the projects generate valuable data. The objective of the MHK Data Repository is to develop a centralised approach for managing and leveraging these awardee data for public dissemination. The repository will enable all awardees to upload their data in an efficient format and facilitate public access to the data for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing among domestic and international MHK industry members, developers, and researchers.

"The goal is to release a working prototype in 2015"

At this time, there isn't a mechanism in place for multiple parties (DOE, national labs, awardees, and the public) to upload, store, and download MHK data in a cost- and time-efficient manner. With support from the Energy Department, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will evaluate data management solutions, and coordinate with DOE to pursue a data management solution. The NREL team will use best practices from their experience with the Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) on OpenEI and the Energy Databus. The NREL team is well poised to provide guidance and implement technical solutions for managing secure data, as well as publishing data for public consumption.

Over the next several months, DOE and NREL will:

• Define requirements for secure data management.
• Draft content models to specify how data is exchanged in order to achieve a high level of interoperability across various parties generating data (awardees) and those using data (the public).
• Seek external feedback.
• Publish updates to OpenEI.

The goal is to release a working prototype in 2015, which will allow users to actively contribute data and information, utilise and refine the content models, and enable the sharing of open data after all moratoriums expire and/or based on contractual data agreements.

Capabilities of the proposed MHK Data Repository include:

• Secure and intuitive submission process.
• Curation and approval workflow.
• Support for data under moratorium.
• Keyword faceted search; Central authentication (CAS).
• Custom metadata schema.
• External integration.
• Multi-layered security.
• Secure storage of sensitive data.
• Scalability.
• Analytics.

An easy-to-use, secure, online environment for sharing data will facilitate and expedite R&D efforts by the DOE and national labs. This data sharing initiative will have a high impact on the advancement of MHK technologies. For example, validation of datasets for models characterising and predicting operational performance of wave energy devices (WECSim) will be more easily shared with economic analysts, model developers and users including industry and academia. Model validation will move forward more effectively when all members of the U.S. and international community are able to efficiently access data. The MHK Data Repository will reduce duplication of effort and accelerate MHK innovation by allowing fewer resources to be spent on data discovery, freeing up resources for analysis, innovation and implementation.

The Water Power Programme has also collaborated with the International Energy Agency's Ocean Energy Systems group to create the Tethys database, which catalogues, shares, and maps environmental research from around the world to enable sustainable development and expansion of clean, renewable ocean power: http://mhk.pnnl.gov/.

To learn more about the MHK Data Repository, please contact Alison LaBonte, MHK Technology Development Lead, U.S. Department of Energy, [email protected] More information about the DOE Water Power Programme's MHK efforts can be found at http://energy.gov/eere/water/marine-and-hydrokinetic-energy-research-development



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