Tidal power plant proposed for New York's East River

January 11, 2011 By Sandy Bauers

Here's exciting news for anyone who's been watching the fledgling efforts to promote tidal power in the U.S.: A New York energy company that has been testing tidal power in the East River has filed a formal application to install 30 underwater power turbines in the East Channel of the river.

If approved, the company, Verdant Power, said in making the recent announcement, the project would be the first plant in the U.S. licensed to transmit energy onto the national grid.

Basically, tidal power involves putting turbines in areas where there are significant tides and currents. As the water sluices through, it turns the turbines and electricity is generated.

Entitled the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project, the initiative has been Verdant Power's signature effort to commercialize its 'Free Flow' kinetic hydropower system, which utilizes three-bladed turbines deployed in fast-moving tides and to generate clean energy, according to a company press release.

During 2006-08, Verdant demonstrated a similar system with six full-scale turbines, delivering energy to businesses in New York City.

The US Department of Energy provided partial funding, specifically the design and testing of a new composite blade in partnership with the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. Major funding has been provided by the New York State Research and Development Authority and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The company also is pursuing projects in the St. Lawrence River and Puget Sound.

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