U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Water Power Program
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).
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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.