Hydro Review

The Leading Edge

Developer proposes tidal plant for New York City's East River

Verdant Power has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to install up to 30 tidal turbines in the East Channel of the East River in New York City.

If approved, the project would be the first tidal plant in the U.S. licensed to transmit energy onto the national grid, a press release states.

Called the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, the initiative has been Verdant Power's signature effort to commercialize its Free Flow kinetic system, which utilizes three-bladed turbines deployed in fast-moving tides and rivers to generate energy. From 2006 to 2008, Verdant Power demonstrated a Free Flow System comprised of six full-scale turbines, delivering energy to businesses in New York City. The RITE Project would have a capacity of about 1 MW and is expected to generate 1,680 to 2,500 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

Verdant Power would install a 5th Generation Free Flow System through the pilot project - a design enhanced for system reliability, cost-effective manufacturing, and environmental compatibility. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided partial funding for this advancement, specifically the design and testing of a new composite turbine blade in partnership with DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. Major funding for development of the RITE Project has been provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The license application was submitted under FERC's Hydrokinetic Pilot Project Licensing Procedures. The application was prepared by Verdant Power with support from Kleinschmidt Associates and outlines the company's plans to meet FERC requirements for installation and operation, including environmental monitoring and public safeguarding.

Verdant Power conducted environmental monitoring during the six-turbine demonstration at the RITE Project, developing significant data that showed no evidence of increased fish injury or mortality. Verdant Power would continue environmental monitoring plans, developed in conjunction with federal and state resource agencies, during the pilot project to study effects of the larger field, which is planned for incremental installation beginning in late 2011, pending approvals.

GIS-based tool available to map marine projects

A tool called the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre provides baseline information needed for marine spatial planning efforts around the U.S., particularly those that involve finding the best location for renewable energy projects.

Users of this interactive tool can pick the ocean geography of their choosing and see information about:

- Jurisdictional boundaries and limits, including marine protected areas and federal fishery management areas;

- Federal georegulations, such as Clean Water Act Section 402 and the Endangered Species Act;

- Federal agency regions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and National Park Service;

- Navigation and marine infrastructure, including oil and natural gas wells and transmission lines;

- Human use, such as proposed California hydrokinetic sites;

- Marine habitat and biodiversity, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act; and

- Geology and seafloor, including undersea feature place names and bathymetric contours.

The tool features a map of the U.S. marked with the contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, revenue sharing boundary, state seaward boundary, and territorial sea.

The Multipurpose Marine Cadastre allows users to perform measurements (distance and area) and draw boundaries using nautical miles, statute miles, and kilometers. Users can plot coordinates of latitude and longitude.

This geographic information system (GIS)-based tool was developed by the Minerals Management Service (now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The tool is available at www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/mmc/index.html.

Nova Scotia Power, OpenHydro recover demonstration turbine

Nova Scotia Power and technology partner OpenHydro have recovered a demonstration turbine from the Minas Passage.

Recovery of the 400-ton tidal turbine represents a first for OpenHydro and the Bay of Fundy. The recovery also satisfies one of the key objectives set with Nova Scotia Power at the outset of this tidal turbine demonstration project, according to a press release.

OpenHydro will conduct a detailed engineering analysis of the unit and access the data collection and storage equipment that was installed on the gravity base and tidal turbine. The engineering analysis was to begin early in 2011.

OpenHydro and Nova Scotia Power remain fully committed to re-installing the turbine in the Bay of Fundy as soon as possible, a press release states.

OPT prepares PowerBuoywave machine for ocean trials

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) revealed progress with its 150-kW PowerBuoy project to be deployed off the coast of Reedsport, Ore., in 2011.

With the steel structure for its PB150 PowerBuoy completed, fabrication is under way on the power take-off and control systems, which will be tested on land in the first half of 2011 before ocean trials begin, media reported.

Pennington, N.J.-based OPT looks set to become the first company to deploy a utility-scale wave farm in U.S. waters.

In December 2010, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued an environmental assessment recommending licensing of the 1.5-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park. OPT hopes to obtain a license in 2011 for Reedsport. OPT filed a settlement agreement with FERC in August 2010, outlining proposed terms for licensing the project.

The Reedsport project consists of 10 PowerBuoy converters to be installed in a 35-acre area of the Pacific Ocean 2.5 miles off the coast of Douglas County, Ore. Nine additional PowerBuoys are to be installed under a second phase that would increase capacity to 50 MW and would require a license amendment.

FERC issued an environmental assessment declaring that licensing the project would not constitute a major federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The assessment eliminates the need for a full environmental impact statement.

The environmental assessment said the primary issues associated with licensing the project are potential effects on marine mammals, birds, salmon, navigation, commercial fishing and crabbing, and recreation. The assessment found, with staff-recommended mitigation, the project would produce power during the first year at a cost of $3.3 million, or $804.67 per megawatt-hour.

California developer proposes 3,186-MW San Onofre wave farm

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted a preliminary permit to JD Products LLC to study developing a 3,186-MW San Onofre OWEG Electricity Farm off the coast of San Diego County, Calif.

JD Products of Fountain Valley, Calif., proposes to install 11,433 Ocean Wave Electricity Generation (OWEG) unit in 2 square nautical miles of ocean offshore of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. A 2,640-foot-long transmission line would interconnect with the power grid at the nuclear plant.

JD Products' application said its initial plan is to install 50 units in an area of 122,000 square feet during the preliminary permit period of 36 months. However, a FERC preliminary permit merely reserves the site while the permit holder investigates the feasibility of a project and prepares a license application. It does not allow construction or installation of generating units.

FERC issued the permit for San Onofre OWEG Electricity Farm in October 2010.

The developer said the San Onofre nuclear plant's Station 1 is not in operation and Station 2 and 3 are to be decommissioned by 2022, allowing the wave farm to use the nuclear plant's electricity distribution system exclusively to deliver power to utility Southern California Edison.

The OWEG model unit consists of four 5-foot-diameter wheels; one 16-foot-long, 6-foot-wide conveyor belt; eight water buckets; and an electricity generation box containing gear and pulley systems and three generators.

NMFS warns of premature filing, potential threat to species

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) filed comments with FERC in December 2010, contending JD Products filed a FERC pre-application document (PAD) prematurely, without holding meaningful consultation with NMFS.

Pre-filing consultation, study development, and the PAD are carried out as part of developing a license application. In the preliminary permit, FERC instructs JD Products to file, within 45 days of permit issuance, a schedule for preparation of a notice of intent (NOI) to seek a license and for preparation of a PAD. The NOI and PAD are to be filed within a year of permit issuance.

NMFS pointed out that JD Products filed its PAD a day before FERC issued the preliminary permit.

NMFS filed comments noting the site could include populations or critical habitat of Southern California steelhead and North American green sturgeon, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. It added that four sea turtle species and 24 protected marine mammals might be present in the area.

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