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Alstom acquires Rolls-Royce tidal turbine plant

Alstom Power acquired control of Rolls-Royce's Tidal Generation Limited (TGL) in late September. The full acquisition is anticipated to be complete within the next few months. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

UK-based TGL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce PLC, manufactures and designs tidal turbines that capture and convert the energy of tidal streams to generate electrical power.

TGL has seen recent success in tidal energy generation. The company installed a 500 kW tidal turbine prototype at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) offshore test site near Orkney, Scotland, in March of this year.

Alstom said the acquisition will help complete its renewable power portfolio, which includes hydro, geothermal, biomass and solar branches. TGL is an important component of Alstom's existing ocean power research and development facility, established in 2010 in Nantes, France, the company says.

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TGL's acquisition of the Rolls-Royce plant and successful installation of a 500 kW tidal turbine in Orkney, Scotland is a promising sign of future hydrokinetic development in the UK.

"With this acquisition, Alstom strengthens its position in a promising market and complements an already large offer of cutting-edge renewable energy technologies," says Jerome Pecresse, president of Alstom Renewables Power.

Crown Estate moving forward in hydrokinetic industry

The UK's Crown Estate is taking an active role in promoting hydrokinetic development in the country. The London-based commercial property business leased three hydropower development sites to Tidal Energy Ltd., Voith Hydro Wavegen, and Pulse Tidal Ltd. for wave and tidal projects. Granted as part of the Crown Estate's further Scottish leasing (Saltire Prize projects) and demonstration leases project, the leases allow the recipients to license allotted seabed areas within the UK's renewable energy zone.

These three bring the total of currently leased demonstration sites to 37. The Crown Estate plans to use these leases and their potential generation ability to build up the hydrokinetic industry in the UK.

The Crown Estate consulted with various members of the hydrokinetic industry with the goal of improving the leasing process, defining clear goals for the UK's hydrokinetic portfolio, and formulating a list of potential sites and schemes.

Scotland launches marine energy park

Scotland's Pentland First and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park has beenlaunched to boost marine hydrokinetic power development.

The venture is sponsored by the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change and will incorporate the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), where wave and tidal devices are being tested in the channel between mainland Scotland and the Orkney islands. The park will also allow space for researchers from universities and private companies to further develop marine energy technology.

UK Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, and Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, were present at the launch. Ewing highlighted the value the park would add to Scotland's role in marine energy. "Progress in Scottish wave and tidal renewables has been staggering, but the Scottish government recognizes that more financial support is needed to help the sector achieve its fullest potential. That is why we have committed over £30 million (including) investment at EMEC, and why we are still continuing to invest in the sector with the £18 million Marine Renewables Commercialization Fund created to accelerate the development and deployment of commercial arrays," he said.

Those in the Scottish marine industry, including Scottish Renewables and WWF Scotland, support the park, noting the creation of jobs as a significant result.

While the potential employment boom is a positive result, continued EMEC testing has the potential to generate a new wave of technology for wave power in Ireland. Wello Oy, a Finnish firm, and Vattenfall will both be testing wave energy devices in 2014 at EMEC. Kawasaki Heavy Industries will also begin testing of a tidal stream energy converter as early as 2013.

"This area is already a vital part of the marine industry, thanks to its high tidal stream and wave resource," said Barker. He added: "This park will help bring together local knowledge and expertise to spur on further development in this exciting industry."

Barker says hydrokinetic energy could account for as much as 27 GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, making it a US$23.6 billion industry.

Government grants $5.6 million to BioPower Systems

Martin Ferguson, federal minister for resources and energy in Australia, has announced a grant for the bioWAVE pilot demonstration project. The AUD$15 million (US$15.6 million), 250 kW project, located off the coast of Victoria, Australia, is in development by BioPower Systems. The AUD$5.6 million ($5.8 million) grant completes all funding needs for the project. The government, partners and BioPower Systems contributed funds.

The unit is composed of a 30 meter-high structure made of steel that sways in an arc of up to 40 degrees under the ocean surface. The motion activates hydraulic cylinders and causes the generator to spin, providing a capacity of 250 kW of electricity that can be transmitted to the country's electric grid via a subsea cable.

Scheduled to deploy in 2013, the bioWAVE pilot will be connected to the national power grid for 21 months for operation and testing before being decommissioned. Test results will assist in the effective design of a commercial-scale, 1 MW bioWAVE unit.

The pilot is currently at the planning, permitting and design stage. Construction is set to begin before the end of the year.

UK Department of Energy increases funding

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has more than doubled the number of renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) it grants to marine energy technologies to increase the deployment of renewable energy.

Some hydrokinetic technologies will receive five ROCs per MWh subject to a 30 MW limit.

The changes are intended to stimulate research and ensure that developers who test marine energy devices in the UK work toward implementing full-scale projects in the UK based on that research.

Ocean energy has potential to create 70,000 jobs

Irish Republic Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny announced the potential to create 70,000 new jobs in the ocean energy sector at a recent conference in Mount Falcon, Ballina, Ireland.

About 140 policy-makers and industry professionals attended the Offshore Renewable Energy: Exploring Supply Chain Opportunities conference supported and organized by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Mayo Country Council and Mainstream Renewable Power. Topics included methods to improve Ireland's standing in the development of wave and wind energy.

The Taoiseach highlighted the government's commitment to developing renewable energy in the wave sector and to ensuring "that [Ireland's] ocean wealth is a key component of economic recovery and sustainable growth into the future."

Kenny announced that the marine hydrokinetic sector shows tremendous economic potential for Ireland, including revenue of up to €120 billion (US$154 billion) by 2050.

Carnegie Wave Energy pursuing governmental funding

Carnegie Wave Energy in western Australia is poised to make waves in the marine and hydrokinetic industry after requesting funding from the federal government's Clean Energy Future Fund to push forward its newest technology.

Carnegie has developed a wave power generation system called CETO. The system is fully submerged and utilizes the vertical motion of waves to drive a pump, which delivers pressurized water to an onshore turbine via a submerged pipeline.

"Australia, with its world class energy resource, and its world class offshore engineering expertise from the oil and gas sector, has a unique opportunity to actually grab and own a renewable energy sector and exploit it, and actually be seeing this as an opportunity to generate jobs and revenue for the country going forward," said Carnegie Chief Executive Officer Michael Ottaviano.

Ocean Power Technologies releases financial report

Financial results from Ocean Power Technologies Inc.'s 2013 first quarter apparently show the economics of wave power are improving.

According to the fiscal report released at the end of July, product development costs decreased 38%, reducing the company's net loss from US$5 million to US$4.4 million.

Development of the proposed 19 MW wave energy project near Portland, Victoria, Australia, is progressing on schedule, the company says. OPT and partner Lockheed Martin are currently retaining the proper licensing and adequate funding for the project. These efforts include meeting the conditions set by the Commonwealth of Australia for use of a previously announced AUD$66.5 million (US$69.5 million) grant for construction of the project.

In the USA, FERC approved OPT's 1.5 MW wave power station in Reedsport, Ore., and OPT has a research and development agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to test the use of the PowerBuoy technology for ocean surveillance at a currently undisclosed location and time.

"OPT got off to a strong start in fiscal 2013, with progress on a number of ongoing initiatives in the U.S. and abroad," says OPT Chief Executive Officer, Charles F. Dunleavy. "We look forward to reporting results on these and our other initiatives in the months ahead."

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