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Tidal energy device passes test, marine hydro firm Ocean Renewable Power says

Ocean Renewable Power Company, a Maine-based marine hydropower firm, announced that its Beta Power System has successfully generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents at its Cobscook Bay site in Eastport, Maine.

The system's core component, the proprietary Turbine Generator Unit, or TGU, is deployed below ORPC's research and testing vessel and has a maximum design capacity of 60 kW. The Turbine Generator Unit works on the same principle as a wind turbine, with rotating foils that power a central permanent magnet generator. ORPC says the Beta Power System is the largest ocean energy device ever installed in U.S. waters.

Performance test results show that the TGU's electrical output meets or exceeds expectations for the full range of current velocities encountered, ORPC said. ORPC will use the data obtained from the Beta Power System to fine tune the design of its 250-kW commercial TidGen Power System, planned for installation in Eastport in late 2011. The TidGen Power System will be connected to the New England grid through the Bangor Hydro Electric Company system, and will generate enough electricity to power 50 to 75 homes, ORPC reported.

"Proving the efficacy of the Beta Power System and its ability to generate grid-compatible power day in and day out is a huge milestone for America’s ocean energy industry," said Chris Sauer, president and chief executive officer of ORPC. "It reaffirms the limitless opportunities to advance the nation's renewable energy agenda and ensure a more sustainable future."

In other news, the U.S. Department of Energy has designated the Center for Ocean Energy Technology at Florida Atlantic University a national center for ocean energy research and development, naming it the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center.

DOE will provide funding to the SNMREC to perform research and development on ocean current energy technology and ocean thermal energy technology, with a particular view toward placing systems in the Florida Straits and the Gulf Stream, which is close to where the center is located.

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