Water Power Program Grant Recipient to Deploy Tidal Device in Maine this Summer
March 28, 2012
Department of Energy (DOE) grant recipient, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) is now licensed to construct, operate, and maintain its 5-unit, 300 kW TidGen Power System in Cobscook Bay, Maine. In 2010, DOE awarded $10 million to ORPC’s $21-million TidGen Power System Commercialization Project. This project significantly advances the technical, operational, and environmental goals of the tidal energy industry at large and accelerates ocean power technology developed, manufactured, and deployed by a U.S. company in domestic waters. The 8-year pilot project is among the first ocean power projects in the United States to install a grid-tied marine and hydrokinetic device and generate electricity from tidal currents.
Founded in 2004, ORPC isn’t new to ocean power commercialization efforts in the state of Maine. ORPC successfully generated electricity from the Bay of Fundy tidal currents in 2008, and in 2010 tested the TidGen beta, a barge-mounted tidal turbine, which was the largest ocean energy device ever deployed in the United States at the time.
The TidGen Power System’s cross flow turbine generating units will be deployed in Cobscook Bay, a relatively shallow river valley opening up to Maine’s Bay of Fundy. Tidal current energy in the bay is estimated to be greatest in the world. Cross flow turbine devices are designed to generate electricity over a range of water currents and can capture energy on both ebb and flood tides without the need for repositioning. The first unit will be installed in the next few months and four additional devices are planned for installation in the summer of 2013. A single cable will connect anchored devices to Maine’s electric grid. Bangor Hydro Electric is adapting existing service lines to accommodate the electricity generated by the TidGen power devices. When complete, the TidGen Pilot Project will operate at a fully rated capacity of 300 kW which is enough power to provide electricity for 75-100 homes.
Installing the commercial TidGen Power System in Cobscook Bay is a major effort in ORPC’s Maine Tidal Energy Project. After running and monitoring this initial system for a year, the company plans to install additional power systems over a period of three years. The goal is to increase the project’s capacity to 3 megawatts—enough electricity to power 1,200 Maine homes and businesses with clean tidal energy.
The U.S. Coast Guard is establishing temporary safe zones during installation periods and will work with local mariners to keep the areas safe throughout construction and operation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued ORPC a pilot project license upon approving the project as small, short term, removable and able to be shut-down, and also located in a non-sensitive area.
The Water Power Program supports the launch of innovative ocean power systems, funding cutting-edge prototype tests, demonstrations, and pilots that will lead to commercially viable renewable energy technologies. Stay tuned to the Water Power Program for updates as ORPC installs its TidGen Power System.