Kinetic developer drops 18 U.S. permits, eyes different technology

Hydrokinetic project developer McGinnis Inc. has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to surrender preliminary permits for 18 projects in favor of studying an alternative low-flow technology.

McGinnis obtained three-year preliminary permits in 2009 and 2010 to study development of 18 350-kW hydrokinetic projects on the Ohio, Kanawha, and Mississippi rivers, totaling 6.3 MW. Utilizing sites at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locks and dams, the Ohio-based developer proposed installing barge-mounted turbine-generators and armored submarine cables to transmit power ashore.

“McGinnis has evaluated flow velocities, investigated several turbine concepts for use in barge-mounted applications, designed and fabricated one test unit, and completed preliminary in-water trials for one vertical-axis design,” McGinnis said. “The results indicate that existing flow conditions would not support sufficient power generation to warrant further development of barge-mounted turbine arrays at any of the project sites.”

The developer said it decided instead to investigate an alternative technology, a “buoyancy-block” turbine design, that it said promises to be highly efficient under low-velocity conditions.

“This change in direction will require additional studies which cannot be completed within the regulatory timelines associated with the existing permits, as well as additional funding,” it said, adding it hoped to reapply for new permits in the future.

Permits for hydrokinetic projects being surrendered include:
o Ohio River in West Virginia: Belleville No. 13453, Hannibal No. 13592, New Cumberland No. 13593, Pike Island No. 13595, Racine No. 13454, Robert C. Byrd No. 13442, Willow Island No. 13444;
o Ohio River in Ohio: Greenup No. 13451, Meldahl No. 13446;
o Ohio River in Kentucky: Cannelton No. 13452, John T. Myers No. 13450, Markland No. 13449, McAlpine No. 13447, Newburgh No. 13445, Smithland No. 13596;
o Kanawha River in West Virgina: Marmet No. 13448, Winfield No. 13443;
o Mississippi River in Illinois: Melvin Price No. 13566.

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