Ocean mavericks in Maine turn tide for electrical grid

Sep 19, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org)—Sadly speaking, the U.S. ocean-energy industry has had to take a back seat to Europe, where government subsidies help entrepreneurs and innovative companies work on their technologies. Happily speaking, the United States has, as one writer said, found its footing, but, more precisely, got feet wet. For the first time in the United States, power from the ocean is being generated for the power grid and the action is all up in Maine. Ocean Renewable Power Company announced this month that its tidal energy project is delivering electricity to the Bangor Hydro Electric Company's power grid. ORPC launched the Maine tidal device and as a result electricity is flowing from ORPC's "Cobscook Bay Tidal Project."

The company's effort marks the first power from any commercial ocean energy project to be delivered to an electric utility grid in the United States. ORPC's device generates electricity from a tidal energy turbine on the bottom of Cobscook Bay, in easternmost Maine.

ORPC's TidGen turbine generator unit being readied for installation at Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project site

Eastport is off of Cobscook Bay and the Eastport area has Maine's highest tides—20 feet. The device's blades churn as the tides rise and fall. Significantly, Cobscook Bay is also part of the bigger Bay of Fundy, off the Maine coast, an enormous resource; and said to have the highest tides in the world.

The turbine, at the bottom of Cobscook Bay, can generate 180 kilowatts of electricity, which is said to be sufficient to power 25 to 30 homes. Two more devices will be installed at ORPC's Cobscook Bay Project site in late 2013. The three-device system will generate power for many more homes. Power has been flowing for some weeks but ORPC waited to make the announcement only after Bangor Hydro confirmed it. Bangor Hydro owns the lines that connect to the submerged turbine. They verified power was being delivered to the grid.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
An animation of the ORPC TidGen Power System.

The device, TidGen, is in water depths of 15 to 30 meters, and has the advantage of water flowing in and out of the bay as the tides change. The company's generator is also the first tidal generator that that creates electricity without a dam.

"This is the first power from any ocean including offshore wind, wave and tidal, to be delivered to an electric utility grid in the , and it is the only project, other than one using a dam, that delivers power to a utility grid anywhere in North, Central and South America," ORPC said.

Since 2004, ORPC has worked on technology and projects that use ocean and river currents to produce to homes and businesses. The company is based in Portland, with field operations in Eastport.

Explore further: First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel

More information: www.orpc.co/newsevents_pressre… aspx?id=OPE6LzAgijk=

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User comments : 8

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Husky
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2012
i like the modular quick installment that could be factory mass produced, any figures on current and future projected price per wallsocket watt?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2012
It is an inetersting device. Seems to very dependent on the right geological features being present, though (unless you add a dam). But as part of the energy mix it's certainly worthwhile to explore all possible avenues.
Shootist
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 19, 2012
Sadly speaking, the U.S. ocean-energy industry has had to take a back seat to Europe, where government subsidies help entrepreneurs and innovative companies work on their technologies.


Speak for yourself. I'm well chuffed that the US Government isn't wasting my money on frivolous crap such as this.

Drill here, drill now, for the children's sake.
Coal, consider it condensed solar power.
Nukes, the non-renewable that never quits.
VendicarD
4 / 5 (5) Sep 19, 2012
What happens when the tides stop, the water vanishes, or the oceans freeze solid?

These Commie Invironmentalists must be stopped before they reduce oil consumption.
james_r_olson_1
5 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2012
I was wondering, shootist, what is it about the use of coal that most appeals to you? Is it the resultant lower PH in the environment, or is it the rapid distribution of Cesium? Or some other benefit I haven't thought about?
jibbles
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
I was wondering, shootist, what is it about the use of coal that most appeals to you? Is it the resultant lower PH in the environment, or is it the rapid distribution of Cesium? Or some other benefit I haven't thought about?


maybe more brain-damaged people, like shootist, from mercury poisoning?
SiBorg
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
Operations and maintenance are going to be a nightmare on that thing if crane barge is required every time a bearing or blade goes. That said it is great to see a THAWT style generator in the water.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
Operations and maintenance are going to be a nightmare on that thing if crane barge is required every time a bearing or blade goes.

Depends on the MTBF (mean time between failure). As with maintenance of off shore windfarms: It isn't easy. But they don't break down all that often, so the occasional high cost maintenance operation is well worth it.

These things don't spin at high revs, so I'd imagine with a modicum of god engineering they don't break down that often.

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