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The Leading Edge

Finavera studying development of Humboldt County wave

Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. is studying the 100-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy project in the Pacific Ocean off California. The company plans to analyze oceanographic conditions, commercial and recreational activities, and effects potentially associated with the planned project.

Finavera received a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 2008, allowing three years to study the project’s feasibility. The company said it would rely on the studies and stakeholders in framing its application for a license to build and operate the project.

The Humboldt County project would consist of 200 to 300 wave energy conversion buoys, each with a generating capacity of 200 kW to 1 MW, yielding a combined installed capacity of 100 MW. It also would feature a submarine transmission cable, generators, anchoring devices, an offshore transmission line, and related facilities.

Wind studied for pump-back power at Phantom Canyon

H2O Providers LLC, doing business as H2OHy.Pro LLC, is studying the possibility of using a wind farm to power the pump-back feature of the proposed 390-MW Phantom Canyon pumped-storage project.

The developer received a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study a 440-MW version of Phantom Canyon in Colorado. Although the permit does not mention wind in the project description, H2OHy.Pro says it now envisions building a wind farm (at a location still to be determined) that would generate electricity to pump water to the upper reservoir at night, when electricity rates are low.

The Phantom Canyon project will feature upper and lower reservoirs impounded by earthen dams, a penstock, a powerhouse, and a pump station on the Arkansas River with two 180- to 220-MW pump-turbines.

Reconnaissance-level studies by Washington Group International indicated the project is technically feasible and likely to be economically feasible.

U.S., Oregon to coordinate review of wave energy projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the state of Oregon are coordinating procedures and schedules for reviewing wave energy projects in state waters off the coast of Oregon.

In March 2008, FERC and the state signed a memorandum of understanding establishing Oregon’s support of FERC’s procedures for a shorter-term, experimental pilot license that ensures environmental, economic, and social protections.

Under terms of the agreement, FERC and Oregon will:

The memorandum can be obtained on the Internet: www.ferc.gov/legal/maj-ord-reg/mou/mou-or-final.pdf.

Fieldstone Energy developing wave, in-stream technology

Fieldstone Energy in Oklahoma is developing a device to produce electricity from waves or river flow. A computer model of the device shows promise; the next step is to conduct a physical model study.

The device works by capturing the energy of the vertical motion of a buoy to produce electricity. A bypass channel brings water through an ingress gate into a closed chamber, called an impoundment area. The water flowing into this chamber raises a buoyancy device that rests on the surface of the water. Once the chamber is full, the ingress gate is closed and the egress gate is opened. Opening the egress gate allows the water to flow out of the chamber, thus lowering the buoyancy device. The raising and lowering of this device creates pressure in a hydraulic cylinder located above the buoyancy device. The cylinder drives a linear generator located on a platform adjacent to the impoundment.

To avoid killing fish, a minimum water level of 3 feet is held in the impoundment area at all times.

Alden Research Laboratory Inc. in Massachusetts performed computational fluid dynamics modeling of the device. The goal of this research was to benchmark the performance of a unit sized for an installation with 10,000 cubic feet per second of available flow and 20 feet of head. In a report published in January 2008, the lab recommended a physical model study of Fieldstone’s technology.

Construction can begin on 1-MW Makah Bay wave project

Construction of the 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project can begin, according to a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling. In March 2008, FERC declared that Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. obtained all necessary approvals and can begin building the project off the coast of Washington state.

FERC denied rehearing requests by the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the Makah Tribe, who contested FERC’s December 2007 order issuing a conditional license for the project.

The Department of Ecology had asked FERC to rescind the license – the commission’s first license order granted to a hydrokinetic energy project. It argued FERC could not issue a license before the applicant obtained state permits and authorizations.

FERC responded that point was moot, as the state issued necessary permits in February 2008.

Unlike standard hydropower licenses, which cannot be issued until all terms and conditions are submitted by state and federal resource agencies, FERC has said it plans to issue conditional hydrokinetic project licenses quickly, without waiting for authorizations from other agencies. However, the hydrokinetic licenses are to be conditioned to prevent a licensee from actually starting construction until it obtains all necessary authorizations.

FERC grants tidal projects extra year to file documents

Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) has an additional year to file notices of intent and draft applications for pilot project licenses for seven tidal energy projects in Washington, according to a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling.

Snohomish County PUD holds preliminary permits for the projects, in and around Puget Sound. FERC granted the permits in February and March 2007, before it developed procedures for issuing short-term licenses to test new hydrokinetic technologies.

Snohomish County PUD submitted pre-application documents for all seven projects in January 2008, within one year of the effective dates of the permits. At that time, the district also requested a waiver of a requirement that it file notices of intent to file license applications within one year of the permits’ effective date.

Preliminary permits issued to hydrokinetic projects under the new procedures allow permit holders up to two years to file notices of intent and draft applications for pilot project licenses.

A one-year requirement was included in the first hydrokinetic permits issued by FERC under its original “strict scrutiny” approach for hydrokinetic permits. Early this year, FERC began including the two-year requirement in hydrokinetic project permits.

As the pilot license process did not exist when the Snohomish County PUD’s permits were granted, FERC said it would construe the PUD’s requests for waiver as requests for more time to file notices of intent and draft license applications.

FERC issued an order in February 2008 granting an extension in the filing deadline to January 31, 2009, to:

FERC extended the filing deadline to February 28, 2009, for:


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