Monday, August 30, 2010

Tidal Energy Plant Officially Unveiled in Maine

Ocean Renewable Power Company recently installed a small tidal power generator in Cobscook Bay, Maine, which they say is the largest tidal power plant ever installed in U.S. waters. A generator uses the power from turbines hanging from a barge to charge large battery packs, which are ferried daily by skiff to the Coast Guard station in Eastport. The battery packs provide almost 20 kilowatt-hours of power daily, about half of the energy needs of the 41-foot search and rescue boat docked there.

Admittedly, it is a small amount of power; it would take 25 such turbines to equal the rated capacity of just one of the wind turbines recently installed on the nearby island of Vinalhaven. The project cost $4 million, including more than a million dollars of federal and state support. Ocean Renewable Power Company is using the data it is gathering to fine-tune a larger installation in Cobscook Bay, planned for 2011. That system, according to the company, should generate enough electricity to power 50 or 60 homes.

More info

Monday, August 2, 2010

Surfrider Foundation Signs Historic Settlement Agreement on Reedsport, Oregon Wave Energy Project

The Surfrider Foundation today joined over a dozen government agencies, ocean stakeholder groups, and environmental organizations in signing a historic settlement agreement with Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) in support of the construction and operation of the Reedsport OPT Wave Park.

The Reedsport OPT Wave Park is expected to be the first commercial-scale wave energy project in the United States, pending licensing from the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC). Phases I and II of the project will consist of ten PowerBuoys installed 2.5 miles off the coast of Reedsport, OR.

The parties to the settlement agreement participated in a three-year process to develop consensus on aspects of project design, required monitoring, and contingencies for adaptive management. The Surfrider Foundation has served as a formal representative of recreational and environmental interests throughout the process.

“We believe this represents a really good approach for the development of wave energy technology,” said Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Ecosystem Program Manager. “Incorporating good science and meaningful stakeholder involvement in the planning and management of wave energy projects is in the best interests of nearshore ecosystems and coastal communities.”

The Reedsport settlement agreement defines a precautionary approach to development of the Wave Park that is intended to minimize impacts to the nearshore environment and existing ocean uses such as recreation and fishing. An adaptive management program that includes monitoring of ecological and socioeconomic effects will inform the management and further build-out of the project.

The Surfrider Foundation recognizes that technologies utilizing ocean waves, tides, currents and wind may offer important benefits as renewable sources of energy that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. They may also help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the dangerous practice of offshore oil drilling.

The Surfrider Foundation has developed a policy statement on renewable ocean energy, which includes a set of principles to consider during the planning or evaluation of any proposed project. Employing these principles may help reduce impacts to ocean recreation, nearshore ecology, coastal processes, public safety, aesthetics, and fishing access.