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U.S. developer resumes testing of Maine tidal energy unit

Ocean Renewable Power Co. announced Jan. 9 it resumed testing of a proprietary turbine-generator off the coast of Eastport following poor weather that suspended testing.

Ocean Renewable Power Co. launched Energy Tide 1, a barge retrofitted to accommodate the unit and testing assembly, in early December 2007. At that time, the company began preliminary tests to help determine design capabilities, efficiency, and performance of the prototype unit. However, poor weather limited testing to only a few days prior to year-end holidays.

So far, most of the unit and deployment assembly components have been tested, including basic generator functions, the turbine-generator unit assembly and frame, basic instrumentation, and barge deployment systems. However, the company said it is likely to take several more weeks to complete testing of the unit, given limitations imposed by winter weather and testing of prototype equipment.

The prototype uses the company's Ocean Current Generation (OCGen) technology, which ORPC Maine plans to deploy in both Western Passage and Cobscook Bay of Maine. Each turbine-generator unit consists of two cross-flow turbines that drive a permanent magnet generator on a single shaft.

The city of Eastport and ORPC Maine, a unit of ORPC, formalized a partnership in 2006 to advance development of two tidal power projects near Eastport that would total 42.66 MW: 18.96-MW Western Passage OCGen Power (No. 12680); and 23.7-MW Cobscook Bay OCGen Power (No. 12711).

In 2007, Maine Technology Institute awarded $300,000 to ORPC Maine LLC to support commercial development of tidal power. At that time, the developer said it would use the money specifically for detailed engineering of a prototype project, testing, and eventual installation of a full-size commercial project. (HNN 2/22/07)

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