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The Leading Edge

U.S. offers database on marine, hydrokinetic technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offers the Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Database. DOE’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program made the database available on the Internet at andhydro/hydrokinetic/default.aspx.

This database provides information on marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy projects in the U.S. and worldwide. It also presents information on companies and technologies, such as wave, current, and ocean thermal energy conversion. Users can search by geographic location, resource type, and technology stage or project status.

Database users can find details on a device or project’s size, dimensions, and mooring methods. The database also provides project details – including information on permitting, power purchase agreements, and partnerships – and an interactive global positioning system mapping feature that allows the user to pinpoint project locations worldwide.

The database website includes a marine and hydrokinetic technology glossary with standard definitions for technologies of wave, current, and ocean thermal applications. DOE and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service developed the definitions.

Database tracks industry activity

The database can present a snapshot of projects in a given region, assess the progress of a certain technology type, and provide a comprehensive view of the industry.

When the database was released in January 2009, it indicated that 29 U.S. companies, universities, or municipalities are planning or implementing projects in the U.S. and elsewhere. Within the U.S., developers have applied for initial permitting of 192 projects, and devices have been deployed at 11 projects, DOE said.

Nova Scotia identifies Bay of Fundy tidal center site

Marine energy experts say a site in Minas Passage of Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy is ideal for a first demonstration of tidal energy turbines in the province. The site is on the northern side of the Bay of Fundy near a rock called Black Rock.

Experts chose the site based on 12 months of research that cost more than C$1 million (US$816,000). The site has depths of up to 45 meters at low tide, a sediment-free bedrock sea floor, straight-flowing currents, and water speeds up to 10 meters per second on ebb and flow.

Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd., a sustainable energy and resources company based in Hantsport, Nova Scotia, plans to construct infrastructure for a tidal demonstration center the province has established at the site. The company will connect tidal devices in the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia’s electric grid.

The Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project will feature three underwater turbine berths, marine-to-shore cables, an on-shore substation, and connection to the power grid.

Companies employing various technologies are working toward first occupancy of the facility: Clean Current Power Systems Inc., using a Clean Current Mark III turbine; Minas Basin Pulp and Power, using a Marine Current turbine, rather than a UEK hydrokinetic turbine initially proposed; and Nova Scotia Power Inc., using an OpenHydro Group Ltd. turbine.

Clean Current plans to install a unit with a blade diameter of 17 meters that will be capable of delivering 400 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year. This unit is expected to be operational during the third quarter of 2009.

Minas Basin Pulp and Power is partnering with Marine Current Turbines Ltd. (MCT), a tidal technology developer based in the United Kingdom, in Bristol, England. Minas Basin Pulp and Power said it intends to deploy a 1.5-MW tidal generator, in partnership with MCT, when the Bay of Fundy in-stream energy center enters full operation.

Nova Scotia Power said its technology partner, OpenHydro, seeks a contractor to construct a subsea base for the turbine on the ocean floor. OpenHydro, based in Dublin, Ireland, will review proposals, including those from manufacturers in Nova Scotia. The turbine is to be installed in the fall of 2009.

Interior to expedite rulemaking on U.S. ocean projects

The Department of Interior plans to expedite an overdue renewable energy rulemaking for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which the previous administration was to have completed in December 2008, says secretary Ken Salazar.

Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) is responsible for completing the final rulemaking to regulate alternative energy production activities and alternate uses of existing facilities on the OCS.

In February 2009, Salazar said he intends to issue a final rulemaking on the subject in the coming months.

Completing the rulemaking initiated during the Bush administration is but one component of Salazar’s strategy for developing an offshore energy plan that includes both conventional and renewable resources.

The strategy also calls for: extending by 180 days the public comment period on a proposed five-year plan for oil and gas development on the OCS; assembling a detailed report from Interior agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources; and holding four regional conferences to review the report’s findings.

The MMS, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other departmental scientists are to assemble information about conventional and renewable offshore resources. Their report is due to the secretary in late March. Interior then will determine areas needing more information and create a plan for gathering that information.

“I will convene four regional meetings in the 30 days after MMS and USGS publish their report,” Salazar said. “I will host one meeting in Alaska, one on the Pacific Coast, one on the Atlantic Coast, and one on the Gulf Coast.

Salazar said he hopes Interior can incorporate the significant potential for wave, ocean current, and wind energy into its offshore energy strategy.

Interior oversees more than 1.7 billion acres on the OCS, an area roughly three-fourths the size of the entire U.S. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also claims jurisdiction for ocean energy projects proposed for the OCS.

Minerals Service awards energy study of Outer Continental Shelf

Eastern Research Group Inc. (ERG) is studying energy markets and the infrastructure needs of alternative energy development on the OCS. This work is being performed under a two-year, $443,000 contract awarded by the MMS.

MMS said the study would support its efforts to implement an offshore alternative energy program. The final report on the study is due in late 2010.

Study findings are expected to contribute to socioeconomic analyses for environmental assessments and other decision documents on alternative energy development on the OCS. Initially the study is to focus on possible markets for alternative energy, including regional, emissions, and trading markets. The overview is to include information on market trends and federal and state policies.

In a second phase, the study is to examine energy infrastructure. ERG will work with state Coastal Zone Management programs to define coastal areas and economic connections to alternative energy use. ERG also is to examine infrastructure needed to develop alternative energy on the OCS, such as energy grid operations, substations, and transmission lines.

OPT, Lockheed Martin collaborate on wave power project

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) and Lockheed Martin are collaborating on development of a utility-scale wave power generation project in North America.

The companies did not identify the size of the prospective project but said they expect to build off the coast of California or Oregon. OPT, a technology and development company headquartered in Pennington, N.J., and Lockheed Martin, a global security company headquartered in Bethesda, Md., said they signed a letter of intent for the project.

The parties said they envision an agreement in which OPT would provide its project and site development expertise, build plant systems, and provide its proprietary PowerBuoy technology. Lockheed Martin would provide construction, systems integration, plant deployment, and operations and maintenance services.

The PowerBuoy wave generation system uses a “smart” buoy to capture and convert wave energy into electricity, which is transmitted to shore through an underwater power cable.

The agreement would build upon the companies’ previous work together on systems for U.S. homeland security and maritime surveillance. That work involved OPT’s PowerBuoy, integrated with Lockheed Martin’s advanced acoustic sensors, signal processing, and communications systems.

Finavera abandons Makah Bay, Humboldt wave projects

Finavera Renewables Inc. has filed applications to surrender its federal license for the 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot project in Washington and its preliminary permit for the 100-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy Power project proposed for California.

Makah Bay was the first wave energy project granted an operating license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd., the licensee, filed the license surrender application for Makah Bay and the petition to surrender the permit for the Humboldt County project on the same day in February. It said the projects were not economically viable, citing an unfavorable economic climate and restrictions on capital necessary to continue project development. The company added efforts to transfer the license for Makah Bay were not successful.

Finavera, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the decisions allow it to focus on its wind project portfolio and to give shareholders greater certainty in a challenging economy.

Finavera said it retains all intellectual property associated with its AquaBuoy wave energy technology and seeks financial and technical partners for future development of the technology.

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