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The Leading Edge

Hydrokinetic project in Minnesota to be operational in October

Hydrokinetic power developer Hydro Green Energy LLC expects to generate electricity at its first hydrokinetic project, on the Mississippi River in Minnesota, by October 2008. The project is to be the first commercially operational Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-licensed hydrokinetic project, Hydro Green said.

The company has been working with the city of Hastings, Minn., to install hydrokinetic turbines totaling 70 kW in the tailrace of Hastings’ 4.4-MW Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 2 hydro project. The city has filed an application to amend its hydropower license in order to add the new capacity to the project, at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock and dam.

Hydro Green designs, builds, and operates hydrokinetic energy systems that can be deployed in rivers, tidal areas, and oceans. The systems generate electricity from moving water without a need to construct dams, impoundments, or conduits.

The company holds preliminary permits from FERC for about a dozen projects in Alaska and Mississippi. Many of the projects are at existing Corps dams, several featuring a combination of conventional and hydrokinetic turbines. In addition, Hydro Green has filed applications for preliminary permits to study development of two 70-MW hydrokinetic projects in the Niagara River Gorge downstream from historic hydropower site Niagara Falls.

Hydro Green Energy recently closed its $2.6 million funding round. The Series-A funding round was led by Quercus Trust of Los Angeles, a prominent investor in the renewable energy sector, said Hydro Green Chief Executive Officer Wayne Krouse. “These funds will be used to accelerate our growth, deploy our first commercially operational project, and to study additional project opportunities,” he said.

OMI developing pump to convert wave energy

Ocean Motion International (OMI) of Colorado is testing a 1:20-scale model of the WavePump for its Combined Energy System. This system uses the WavePump to drive simultaneous production of three products: electricity, desalinated water (using reverse osmosis), and hydrogen (using electrolysis).

The WavePump is driven by a float that surrounds a vertical sleeve pump. This float lifts and falls with wave action and produces a high-pressure and high-volume flow of water to drive its production units. The system operates on a large offshore platform that is essentially a modified version of a standard modular offshore drilling unit. The products (electricity, water, and hydrogen) are delivered to the shore using service piping and cables.

The system is designed to allow for the most efficient and cost-effective use of its output, says Gary Somi with OMI. For example, when electricity demand and/or price is high, the portion of the electricity produced that is used to produce hydrogen can be decreased. This allows for more of the output to be sent to shore. Then, when electricity demand is low, the system can be operated to produce hydrogen for storage.

The design of the Combined Energy System is based on a 35-pump system that would provide a capacity of 50 MW. This system also would be able to produce about 19 acre-feet of fil-tered water.

Two companies to explore hydrokinetic development

Hydrokinetic project developer Free Flow Power Corp. and energy services company Energy Systems Group LLC are considering joint development of hydrokinetic projects on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

Free Flow Power of Boston and Energy Systems Group of Evansville, Ind., are working to complete an agreement that would specify the role each firm would play in development and the magnitude of each firm’s investment and resources.

Free Flow Power said it has active applications or permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for 107 projects on five river systems: Mississippi, 55; Missouri, 28; Ohio, 22; Detroit, 1; and Niagara, 1. All of the projects, if fully developed as proposed, represent a total capacity of about 3,000 MW, said Dan Irvin, chief executive officer of Free Flow Power.

Energy Systems Group offers a number of services, including project development, management and operations, engineering, financing, and implementation. Its core business is performance contracting, using energy efficiency, technology, and long-term financing to help building owners modernize their facilities.

NHA wins award for ocean energy work

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) received the 2008 Education Pioneer Award for its work on behalf of the ocean and tidal energy industry. The award is presented each year to an organization that has made a recent contribution toward promoting and educating the public about ocean energy uses, feasibility, benefits, and/or suitable locations.

NHA received the award, presented by Ocean News and Technology magazine, at the EnergyOcean 2008 Conference. Dan White, the conference organizer, recognized NHA as one of the first national organizations to realize the potential of ocean energy resources and the role they can play to meet the environmental and energy policy goals of the U.S.

White also cited the work of NHA’s Ocean, Tidal, and New Technologies Council to promote project development and sharing of information, and to provide a forum to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the industry. This council is made up of more than 30 member companies that are exploring development of ocean, tidal, or hydrokinetic projects. Members include manufacturers, developers, public- and investor-owned utilities, and engineering and consulting firms.

Briefly...

Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Water and Power, Bruce Howard, director of environmental affairs at Avista Corp. said “substantial new hydropower resources are available from new and innovative hydrokinetic technologies that tap the energy of river, tidal, and ocean currents, without the installation of any dam or impoundment.” Nine witnesses testified in a panel to explore the role of hydropower as a continued source of clean, renewable energy. ... Wavebob Ltd. has opened a North American office in Annapolis, Md. to expand the market for its wave energy conversion technology. Wavebob, based in Ireland, has a 250-kW device deployed at the Marine Institute/Sustainable Energy Ireland’s wave energy test site in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. ... The United States and Portugal have agreed to cooperate in development of renewable energy, particularly wave energy generation. To facilitate this cooperation, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho signed a memorandum of understanding outlining specific areas of cooperation, including the exchange of technical personnel, evaluations of downstream projects, and environmental testing and monitoring. ... The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has canceled a preliminary permit held by Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. to study the 300-MW Coos County Offshore Wave Energy project off the coast of Coos County, Ore. FERC cited the company’s failure to file a six-month progress report and failure to file a notice of intent to file a license application and pre-application document.


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