Companies Pursuing Ocean Power along the Northern U.S. Shores
May 2, 2007
Judging by recent permitting activity, there is a great deal of interest in developing wave and tidal energy projects in northern coastal areas of the United States. ORPC Alaska, a subsidiary of Ocean Renewable Power Corporation, LLC (ORPC), announced in late April that it received preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to pursue tidal energy projects in Alaska's Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay. The company has a ways to go, though, as it plans to build a prototype tidal energy turbine device next year and build a full-scale prototype in 2009 before developing the Alaska sites. Finavera Renewables Inc. has a greater chance of developing its proposed site near Coos County, Oregon, since it already has a working prototype of its AquaBuoy wave energy converter. Finavera's subsidiary, AquaEnergy Group Ltd., was awarded a preliminary permit on April 30th for its proposed 100-megawatt wave energy plant. Oceanlinx Limited, formerly known as Energetech, is also interested in the Oregon coast, and has applied for a preliminary permit for a site near Florence. Oceanlinx plans to build a 15-megawatt wave energy plant at the site. See the press releases from ORPC (PDF 50 KB), Finavera (PDF 32 KB), and Oceanlinx (PDF 29 KB). Download Adobe Reader.
A perusal of the FERC tidal energy page confirms that a number of other preliminary permits have been issued in recent weeks. In March, Alaska Tidal Energy Company earned a preliminary permit to investigate tidal stream projects in Alaska, as did Natural Current Energy Services, LLC, which is also investigating a site in Washington State. Douglas County, Oregon, earned a preliminary permit in early April to investigate installing a small wave power plant on its coast, while Oregon Tidal Energy Company hopes to install a tidal stream project in the mouth of the Columbia River, which forms the border between Oregon and Washington. In the Northeast, both UEK Corporation and New Hampshire Energy Company are examining sites for in-stream turbines along the Piscataqua River, a tidal estuary that borders New Hampshire and Maine, while Natural Current is considering an in-stream project in New York's East River. Bucking the in-stream trend is Tidewalker Associates, which aims to build an impoundment across a cove in Maine's Cobscook Bay to power a 13.5-megawatt tidal energy project. See the FERC's "Tidal Energy Issued and Pending Permits" Web page.
International ocean energy activities are also proceeding apace. Finavera is planning to build a 20-megawatt wave energy plant off the coast of South Africa and Wave Dragon Ltd. has submitted the environmental impact assessment for installing a 7-megawatt wave energy plant off the coast of Wales. In addition, the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWERDA) has provided $43 million (21.5 million pounds) to complete funding for an effort to build a Wave Hub off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England. The project involves routing a high-voltage cable from the electrical grid to a point 10 miles out to sea, allowing companies to easily install wave energy systems and provide their power to the grid. See the press release from Finavera (PDF 31 KB), Wave Dragon, and SWERDA.