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U.S. to review proposal to use currents off Florida's coast for ocean energy project

The U.S. Interior Department is beginning an environmental review for a first-ever leasing proposal to use ocean currents of Florida's coast to generate electricity.

Florida Atlantic University has applied to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement for a lease to deploy an experimental demonstration device about 17 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, which is operated by FAU, is exploring the potential for harnessing the powerful Gulf Stream, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The proposed lease would allow the center to deploy a single-anchor mooring and buoy similar to a naval weather buoy to test equipment that could tap the ocean's current and generate electricity on the proposed leasehold. The devices to be deployed would be limited to 100 kW of capacity and 23-foot-diameter rotors, according to the application with federal regulators.

If approved, the university's limited lease would last five years but would not authorize the commercial production or transmission of energy.

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