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As you have likely noticed, our activity on TidalPowerUS has diminished over the last year. This is because we are transitioning over to a new blog, Carbonocracy.
Carbonocracy.com features tidal power alongside many other innovative clean technologies. Our contributors discuss the technology, policy and economics of these emerging markets.
Thank you for four wonderful years and we hope to continue our discussion with you on carbonocracy.com!
“Admittedly, the Sun is my usual celestial body of interest, but today I feel compelled to mention the Moon. Or rather, the tides that the Moon’s gravity creates here on Earth. Tidal power is an almost entirely untapped source of renewable energy in the United States. Almost. For the first time in history, tidal energy is contributing to the US power grid. On Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, Ocean Renewable Power Company’s Maine Tidal Energy Project, using underwater turbines off the coast of Maine, delivered electricity to ~27 homes. Incremental developments in technology and our use of renewable energy like this are, I think, certainly cause for optimism re our evolution beyond fossil fuels. After all, small steps make for giant leaps. And we need a giant leap.
Original Post: Tidal power makes waves in Maine.
–From GOOD Magazine–
“Tidal and wave power do carry some environmental concerns: Early projects are studying how turbines affect fish, for instance. But because these projects live under the water, they could avoid complaints like those that dogged the offshore Cape Wind project about ruining scenic vistas. The East River project has been running turbines on and off as part of a pilot project for years, and New Yorkers, a grumbly bunch, have yet to kick up a major fuss. Most people driving over the Queensboro bridge and gazing down at the river probably never guessed that a power station lies quietly beneath the water.”
It wouldn’t surprise me to see these “environmental concerns” surrounding tidal begin to disappear as people become more acquainted with it. Many who imagine getting power from the motion of the ocean imagine the infrastructure as being something akin to a wind turbine in the water – this isn’t true. While there are many different turbine models, most don’t pose a danger to fish because the turbine blades spin faster than the water surrounding them, which creates a force directing fish away from, not toward, the turbine.
Either way it’s great to see tidal power continuing to get its due – with people realizing that the lack of visibility is also a huge and understated benefit.
by Matthew Buccelli
A historic moment for tidal power in the US. Thank you, FERC, for issuing the first commercial license to a tidal power project. The lucky permit holder is Verdant Power. However, it is not really a question of luck but rather hard work. The company has been building its turbine design and East River project site for years. They first installed turbines at this site in 2002, 10 years ago. The turbines got mangled by the fierce tides so the company has been improving its design since then. The 1 Megawatt project is expected to sell enough energy to Con Edison to power almost 1,000 nearby homes. The first 5 turbines are expected to enter the water in late 2013. The renewable energy world will eagerly await the environmental results of this system, which I’m sure will influence the policy and regulation issues faced by future tidal companies.
Tidal power US released the first ever GIS mapping of the Northeast’s tidal power capacity along the coastline in 2008. Finally, DOE has extrapolated this work to the entire US coastline. The DOE has released two reports that paint an encouraging picture of the long-term viability of tidal energy and its ocean-going companion, wave power. The Energy Department press release announcing the reports boasts that they “represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America’s ocean energy resources,” and given the overall dearth of mainstream information out there on ocean energy sources, they’re probably right.
In total, the reports estimate that when combined with hydropower and other water-based resources, tidal and wave could help to account for up to 15 percent of the US electricity supply by 2030. As we’ve been saying all along, while that won’t necessarily keep the lights on all by itself, when combined with growing solar and wind sectors, tidal and wave have the potential to add to a strong and expanding renewable energy portfolio. Of course, much of this depends on the ability of these early-stage technologies to attract enough private capital to get off the ground, which largely depends (at least in the initial stages) on continued federal support, which is not necessarily a guarantee.
Still, the DOE report is another indication of the United States’ vast potential to develop clean, home-grown energy (and attract that jobs that would come along with that development). 15 percent by 2030 sounds a long way off, but the decisions we make today will have a big impact on whether those figures constitute pure fantasy or legitimate reality tomorrow.
Read the Energy Department press release and find PDF links to the wave and tidal reports here.
by Matthew Buccelli
DOE Reports Major Potential for US Wave and Tidal Energy Production (US Department of Energy)
Ocean Renewable Power Co. may be poised to have the first grid-tied tidal power turbine in the US. The projected site is Portland Ocean Terminal and will have a rated capacity of 150 kilowatts, which is equal to the energy demand of approximately 50 or more homes. Their Turbine Generator Unit (TGU) will measure at around 100 feet and comprise four of their ADCF (Advanced Design Cross Flow) turbines. The ADCF is a further evolved version of the horizontal-axis Gorlov Helical Turbine.