The Center, founded in 1985, is an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies, promoting the efficient use of natural resources and expanding participation in the environmental movement.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Tidal Wave Power Project in Eastport, Maine
The Ocean Renewable Power Company has built and will operate a turbine generator unit, called TidGen, that will use the tides to generate electricity in The Bay of Fundy near Eastport, Maine (pop. 1,322) close to the Canadian border. The Bay of Fundy has very high tides and extreme currents and the turbine generator, which looks a bit like an eggbeater turned sideways, will catch the energy of the rushing water, spinning a generator that sends power to the grid.
This will be the first tidal-power turbine project in the United States. It is experimental and expensive and a major advantage is you don’t see a thing. Wind farms have been criticized as ruining landscapes and has been used to block the projects.
The Department of Energy has put up $10 million of the roughly $21 million in costs, hoping that tidal power can establish itself as part of the country’s arsenal of energy alternatives. The first turbine generator unit has a maximum output of 180 kilowatts, which would power about 30 homes. That is one-sixth the output of a typical wind turbine, although TidGen will turn more than a wind turbine, since the currents will push more consistently than wind. The company plans to add two more turbine generators. If they survive, they are considering another stretch of water, where the current moves even faster, for an array that could hold up to 18 additional generator units. When the whole project is done, projected for 2016, the array could power up to 1,500 homes.
TidGen Blades & Turbine
The rate set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for power generated by the project is 21.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first year — about 8 cents higher than the average rate here.
A handful of other companies are developing their own tidal power projects, like Verdant Power, which has tested turbines in the Hudson River. (NYT, 8/9/2012)