The Leading Edge

PG&E, others study tidal potential in San Francisco Bay

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), the city and county of San Francisco, and Golden Gate Energy Co. are assessing the possibilities for harnessing tides in San Francisco Bay to generate electricity.

PG&E says it is providing up to $1.5 million for research by third-party experts. The city and county are contributing up to $346,000 for feasibility studies and stakeholder outreach. Golden Gate Energy, which holds a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to examine the feasibility of developing the 2-MW San Francisco Bay Tidal Energy project, will work cooperatively to support the effort. The permit, which was granted in October 2005, expires September 30, 2008.

Initial phases of the study were to begin in the summer of 2007 and were expected to take about 12 months. Experts are analyzing the bay’s energy potential, existing and emerging technologies to generate energy from tidal flows, and possible environmental effects. They are also looking at the economic feasibility and other project costs and benefits.

If initial rounds of research affirm the feasibility of tidal power, plans could lead to development of a full-scale commercial project, PG&E said.

BPA awards $883,000 to support ocean, tidal technologies

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) awarded contracts totaling $883,000 to four ocean wave energy and tidal projects. Developers of the projects responded to BPA’s request for proposals to advance research on ocean wave and in-stream tidal technologies.

Funding comes from BPA’s sales of environmentally preferred power and renewable energy certificates.

BPA awarded the following:

– Oregon State University received $466,000 to design and build a laboratory wave energy conversion device testing facility, and establish an ocean-deployed wave energy device test facility. Wave energy developer Finavera Renewable recently said it is working with Oregon State University scientists and engineers to explore wave technology potential.

– Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) received $221,000 to: study seven sites in Puget Sound for tidal in-stream energy conversion devices; characterize several leading tidal energy prototype energy conversion devices; perform preliminary engineering design; assess transmission; and assess environmental and regulatory issues at each site. Snohomish has received seven preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to study tidal energy projects in Washington’s Puget Sound.

– Tacoma Public Utilities received $165,000. Tacoma Power is to conduct a feasibility study to assess various in-stream tidal generation devices, evaluate tidal current models, and identify permitting and environmental issues in Tacoma Narrows. Tacoma received a FERC preliminary permit in 2006 for the 700-kW Narrows Tidal Energy project in Puget Sound.

– EPRI received $31,000 for its proposal to employ operational forecasting products to predict ocean wave energy at water depths of coastal wave energy projects. Earlier this year, EPRI reported 3,000 MW of new hydrokinetic technologies and 10,000 MW of ocean wave energy devices could be brought on line by 2025. EPRI also recently reported 14 tidal power sites off the coast of southeastern Alaska have a total generating potential of more than 2,750 MW.

BPA’s research and development solicitation process for fiscal year 2008 begins October 1, 2007. Areas of interest for the new solicitation include transmission, energy efficiency, physical security, and renewable resources.

Wave project to be installed in Cook Inlet in Alaska

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) plans to install a demonstration wave energy project in Cook Inlet, Alaska, in the spring of 2008. The project will use ORPC’s OCGen module. The demonstration project will operate for about a month, ORPC says.

Each OCGen module contains two helical turbines that drive a single generator. The turbines rotate in only one direction, regardless of the flow of the current. The design allows multiple modules to be connected together to form a single large array.

ORPC plans to use information from the demonstration project to develop a full-scale prototype OCGen module. This prototype would be deployed in the same location about 18 months after the demonstration module is removed. The prototype will operate for at least a year, during which time ORPC will collect data on the flow rate and direction of the current and on the marine environment (noise and fish issues).

ORPC plans to use data from the prototype project to complete permitting, development, and installation of the first of a series of commercial-scale OCGen wave energy projects.

The company has filed a preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

PG&E, Oceanlinx file preliminary permit applications with FERC

Two developers are studying the feasibility of developing wave energy sites in California and Oregon.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) filed preliminary permit applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to study two sites for wave energy projects. The sites, off the coast of Humboldt and Mendocino counties in California, offer a capacity of up to 40 MW each if fully developed.

PG&E plans to offer these two sites as testing grounds for multiple manufacturers of wave energy generating devices. The projects, at sites up to 10 miles off the coast, are called Humboldt WaveConnect and Mendocino WaveConnect. By allowing manufacturers to demonstrate their equipment at a common site, PG&E hopes to accelerate the development of wave energy technology. PG&E is lead developer for the projects, responsible for permitting of the sites.

As part of its feasibility analysis, PG&E will solicit and incorporate comments from local communities and stakeholders. Phased development of the sites will proceed if technical results support feasibility and environmental studies show that any significant effects can be fully mitigated.

Another developer, Oceanlinx Ltd., submitted a preliminary permit application to FERC for the 10-MW Florence Wave Park project in Oregon.

That project would be constructed offshore of Florence, Ore., no more than 2.9 miles from shore. The Outer Continental Shelf begins 3 miles from shore. The project’s average capacity would total 4 MW, with annual generation estimated at 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh).

While the application describes a 10-MW project, Oceanlinx said elsewhere it expects Florence Wave Park would have an initial installed capacity of 15 MW. The project would feature floating devices anchored to the seabed.

Oceanlinx, which is based in Australia, previously was known as Energetech Australia Pty Ltd. It changed its name in April. Energetech America LLC of Deep River, Conn., is listed as the FERC permit applicant.

AquaEnergy Group studying 300-MW Coos County project  

Finavera Renewables subsidiary AquaEnergy Group Ltd. is investigating a site for its 300-MW Coos County Offshore Wave Energy Power project off the coast of Coos County, Ore.

The company received a preliminary permit for this project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in April 2007. The permit allows AquaEnergy to conduct studies of oceanographic conditions, commercial and recreational activities, and possible project effects.

AquaEnergy President Alla Weinstein said project permitting activities will be based on the company’s experience with the 1-MW Makah Bay pilot project in Washington. Makah Bay is the first U.S. wave energy project to file for an operating license.

Coos County Offshore would use clusters of the company’s patented AquaBuOY wave energy devices. The permit describes a 40 MW to 300 MW project consisting of 200 to 300 buoys with a capacity of 200 kW to 1 MW each. The project is expected to generate 175 gigawatt-hours annually for sale to a local utility.

After filing its original application, AquaEnergy redrew the boundaries of the proposed project, thereby avoiding a dispute over which federal agency is responsible for the project. The new boundary is now entirely within state waters. The permit covers an offshore study area of about 5.5 square miles, southwest of the city of Bandon, Ore.

When studies are completed and local stakeholders are consulted, the company said it plans to “micro-size” the project within the proposed area. The final installed wave energy plant is expected to require an area of between 2 and 3 square miles.

Renewable energy guide includes hydrokinetic technologies

The newest edition of EPRI’s Renewable Energy Technology Assessment Guide (TAG-RE) features updated information on the status of performance, cost, installed capacity, and markets for renewable energy generation technologies. Renewable technologies included in the guide are hydrokinetic (ocean) energy conversion, wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, biomass, geothermal, and waste fuels.

This annual guide, which EPRI has published every year since 2000, provides a consistent basis for evaluating the economic feasibility of renewable generation technologies, says Tom Key, program manager with EPRI.

The 2006 edition, released in March 2007, updates information in each chapter of the previous edition. This is the second year hydrokinetic technologies to capture energy from the tide, waves, rivers, and canals have been included. To update the guide, EPRI’s research team collected and analyzed data from a variety of sources, including EPRI studies, reports from the U.S. government, and other publicly available reports.

Subscribers to TAG-RE also have access to Internet-based software calculation tools that allow users to customize the design, performance, and cost estimates for site-specific conditions.

– For information on access to TAG-RE, contact Tom Key at (1) 865-218-8082; E-mail:

Ocean Power Technologies completes public offering  

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) is using proceeds from an initial public offering (IPO) of 5 million shares of common stock to construct demonstration wave power stations. The company said it received net proceeds of about $90.1 million from the IPO.

Proceeds also are being used to fund: minority investment in OPT wave station projects; continued development and commercialization of PowerBuoy systems; and expansion of assembly, test, and field service facilities.

OPT is involved in plans for the 50-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park, which it is developing with Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon.

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