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The Leading Edge

Ocean turbine-generator unit operating in Cobscook Bay, Maine

Ocean Renewable Power Company's (ORPC) 60-kW Beta Turbine Generator Project in Cobscook Bay, Maine, has generated electricity from tidal currents, says Susy Kist, manager of marketing and communications.

ORPC's project, in the Atlantic Ocean near Eastport, Maine, began operating in mid-March 2010. Stillwater Metalworks fabricated the steel components and assembled the 46-foot-long, 14-foot-wide, and 11-foot-tall frame. The generator and frame together weigh about 9 tons. The device is located about 25 feet below the water surface. Tidal power captured by the device is stored in batteries on an anchored demonstration barge. The batteries will be shuttled back and forth to the Coast Guard, which will use the energy to keep an emergency vessel in ready mode, Kist says.

ORPC's technology works on the same principle as a wind turbine, with rotating foils that power a central permanent magnet generator. The units are built primarily with composite materials to resist corrosion.

The company took the generator out of the water to made modifications in May 2010, and the unit was expected to begin operating again in mid-July. In the meantime, ORPC continues to deploy the turbines (without the generator) in Cobscook Bay, Kist says.

The University of Maine is performing environmental monitoring of the site, and ORPC is monitoring and collecting data on the site and other system components.

ORPC expects to deploy its first grid-connected commercial tidal power system, called the TidGen Power System, in 2011.

ORPC's first research model went into the water in December 2007.

Government agencies sign MOU to spur offshore hydro, wind projects

The Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) intended to strengthen the working relationship between the two agencies on the future development of commercial renewable offshore hydro and wind projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

Together, DOI and DOE will use this agreement to spur the development of future commercial-scale offshore wind and hydro projects. The wind and water resources off the U.S.' coasts offer a vast yet largely untapped energy potential. The MOU between DOI and DOE will facilitate the development of these domestic energy resources by pursuing priority leasing and efficient regulatory processes for sites with high, commercial-scale offshore wind and water power development potential.

The two agencies will exchange information on resources and technologies, conduct stakeholder engagements, and collaborate on research projects. These activities will augment the scientific and technical exchanges that already occur between the two departments.

The MOU states that within 30 days after its signing, an interagency working group will develop an action plan covering the following areas:

Nova Scotia Power plans recovery of tidal turbine

An instream tidal turbine manufactured by OpenHydro will be removed from the Bay of Fundy in the fall of 2010 to repair possible damage to the turbine rotor.

Nova Scotia Power deployed the 1-MW commercial scale unit in the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy in November 2009. The Open-Centre Turbine features a large open center to provide safe passage for marine life. The design avoids the use of oils, greases, or other lubricating fluids that could present a pollution risk.

In June 2010, OpenHydro was able to capture limited video footage of the turbine as part of its ongoing monitoring work. Preliminary analysis of the images by engineers has led to the conclusion that the turbine rotor may have been damaged. The damage may be related to the site conditions or to the turbine itself.

Before the recovery can be scheduled, Nova Scotia Power must consult with Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy and its Environmental Monitoring Assessment Committee to ensure environmental monitoring has been completed. After recovery, Nova Scotia Power will perform an engineering analysis to gain technical information about any damage, such as the potential cause.

Once the analysis is complete, OpenHydro will review the design of the turbine and redeploy it in 2011.

Group developing white paper on marine hydropower, recreation

The Hydropower Reform Coalition (HRC), along with the National Park Service (NPS), is developing a white paper that covers recreational issues related to marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies.

The coalition partnered with NPS with assistance from the Department of Energy to produce the white paper, HRC announced. The white paper was made available for public review and is now undergoing revisions based on that review. HRC is a consortium of more than 150 organizations that advocate the protection of rivers and water resources.

The draft report, titled "Hydrokinetic Energy Projects & Recreation: A Guide to Assessing Impacts," provides guidance on how to study recreation impacts and consider ways to minimize adverse ones, HRC reported. The white paper also describes the types of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies currently available and the potential recreation impacts of such technologies. The white paper is designed for utilities, developers, state and federal agencies, and other interested stakeholders involved in assessing recreation impacts.

The draft report is available on the Internet at

DOE releases results of marine and hydrokinetic study

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Development Technical Support and General Environmental Studies.

In response to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Waterpower Program Office instituted a program on marine and hydrokinetic energy development. During Fiscal Year 2009, the program provided support to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to enable staff to interact with the marine and hydrokinetic industry, regulators, and other stakeholders to learn more about the challenges of accelerating the industry to a sustainable source of energy.

Results of the outreach included:

In the 52-page report, PNNL recommends future directions to help accelerate the development of a sustainable marine and hydrokinetic industry in the U.S., including a broad-based education and outreach program, interaction with individuals in the industry, participation in ongoing planning exercises, and development of a framework and road-mapping activities.

To view the report, visit the Internet:


Halcyon Marine Hydroelectric proposes building a $62 million research and demonstration facility at Half Moon Cove in Maine's Cobscook Bay, according to media reports. Halcyon will fund the project, but ownership and 85 percent of the revenues would be retained by the city of Eastport. ... New York-based tidal hydropower developer Verdant Power Inc. and China Energy Conservation Environment Protection Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop tidal energy power projects in China, Verdant reported.

For more ocean/tidal/stream news, see the Hydro Project Activity tab at

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