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DOE awards millions for marine and hydrokinetic energy technology

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced selections for more than $37 million in funding to accelerate the technological and commercial readiness of emerging marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which seek to generate renewable electricity from the nation's oceans and free-flowing rivers and streams.

The 27 projects range from concept studies and component design research to prototype development and in-water device testing. This unprecedented level of funding will advance the ability of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies to contribute to the nation's electricity supply, DOE reported.

"This funding represents the largest single investment of federal funding to date in the development of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies," said Secretary Chu. "These innovative projects will help grow water power's contribution to America's clean energy economy."

The nation's ocean waves, tides, currents, thermal gradients and free-flowing rivers represent a promising energy source located close to centers of electricity demand. The Department of Energy is working with industry, universities, national laboratories and other groups to develop technologies capable of harnessing these resources to generate environmentally sustainable, cost-competitive power. The Department of Energy will leverage private sector investments in marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies by providing cost-shared funding to industry and industry-led partnerships.

Some of the projects selected include:

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (Pennington, New Jersey) will deploy a full-scale 150 kW PowerBuoy system in the Oregon Territorial Sea and collect two years of detailed operating data. This project will obtain critical technical and cost performance data for one of the most advanced wave energy converters in the U.S. DOE Funding: $2,400,000. Total Project Value: $4,800,000.

Ocean Renewable Power Company (Portland, Maine) will build, install, operate and monitor a commercial-scale array of five grid-connected TidGen devices on the sea floor in Cobscook Bay off Eastport, Maine, in two phases over three years. The project will advance ORPC's cross-flow turbine tidal energy technology, producing a full-scale, grid-connected energy system and will gather critical technical and cost performance data for one of the most advanced tidal energy systems in the U.S. The completed project will comprise an array of interconnected TidGen hydrokinetic energy conversion devices, associated power electronics and interconnection equipment into a system fully capable of commercial operation in moderate to high velocity tidal currents in water depths of up to 150 feet. DOE Funding: $10,000,000. Total Project Value: $21,100,000.

Public Utility District No.1 of Snohomish County (Everett, Washington) will deploy, operate, monitor and evaluate two 10-meter diameter Open-Centre Turbines, developed and manufactured by OpenHydro Group Ltd, in Admiralty Inlet of Puget Sound. The project is expected to generate 1 MW of electrical energy during periods of peak tidal currents with an average energy output of approximately 100 kW. This full-scale, grid-connected tidal turbine system will gather critical technical and cost performance data for one of the most advanced tidal turbine projects in the U.S. DOE Funding: $10,000,000. Total Project Value: $20,100,000.

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.

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