Leading Edge

Nova Scotia Power and OpenHydro deploy tidal turbine

Nova Scotia Power and its tidal technology partner OpenHydro deployed the first commercial scale in-stream tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy in November 2009.

The 1-MW commercial scale turbine traveled from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) deployment site, in the Minas Passage. This site is located about 3 kilometers off the shore of Black Rock. Once on site, the 400-ton device was lowered in less than six hours to its intended location on the ocean floor via a purpose-built barge called the OpenHydro Installer. The turbine rests on the seabed and is held in place by a subsea gravity base designed by OpenHydro and fabricated by Cherubini Metal Works.

OpenHydro’s open-center turbine features a slow-moving rotor and lubricant-free operation. The unit is now operational, rotating with the tides, collecting data, and producing energy.

Nova Scotia Power’s involvement with this tidal energy test facility is supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a not-for-profit corporation created by the government of Canada.

Ocean energy advocates testify to Senate subcommittee

Carolyn Elefant, legal counsel for the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, urged lawmakers to establish a federal agency to develop and oversee policy for renewable energy technologies offshore.

Elefant’s testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coastguard in November 2009 stressed the value of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the role for hydrokinetic energy.

“Over the past five years, our industry has gained momentum with respect to technology advancements and an influx of federal and state funding,” Elefant said. “Stalling deployment of marine renewables at this critical juncture could devastate the industry and drive it overseas.”

The Obama administration has established an Ocean Policy Task Force, charged with developing and recommending a policy that protects, maintains, and restores oceans, coastlines, and the Great Lakes.

Elefant was one of several ocean energy advocates who submitted testimony to the Senate subcommittee, including NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and the Ocean Conservancy Vice President Dennis Takashi-Kelso.

Modular floating docks proposed for New York City

A network of modular floating docks “plugged into” the conventional piers of New York City could produce electricity for city street lights.

This proposal by architect and professor Richard Garber features three vertical turbines fastened to the underside of modular floating dock units. The turbines would spin regardless of the diretion of the river current, producing electricity during both ebb and flow tides. Each module would have a capacity of up to 24 kW, which would provide enough electricity to power 350 light-emitting diode (LED) street lamps.

The docking stations would plug into conventional piers, extending them further into the river to optimize clean energy generation while increasing public green space and tidal pools for wildlife, Garber says. New York City has 578 miles of waterfront. The system would encourage energy awareness by the increased visibility of the connection between the water’s edge and the city’s interior, he says.

Garber is assistant professor of architecture at New Jersey’s Science and Technology University. Garber and his student, Brian Novello, entered the proposal in the 2009 Metropolis Magazine Next Generation Design Competition, where it received a notable mention.

Blue Energy Canada begins developing ocean project

Blue Energy Canada Inc. is developing a 1-MW tidal bridge turbine system.

Blue Energy Canada’s vertical axis turbine is designed to be efficiently lift driven, much like modern wind turbines, rather than traditional drag-driven paddle wheel designs. The turbine is composed of vertical hydrofoils attached to a central shaft transmitting torque to a generator.

The turbine is to be housed in a thin concrete caisson that channels water flow to the unit and houses the generator and electrical components above the water surface. The modular units are designed to be stacked to form a “tidal bridge” that actually could be used as a bridge between two land masses. In addition, this system can be used as a platform for offshore wind turbines and can support gas, phone, or power lines, the company said.

Company officials have not yet said where they plan to locate the tidal bridge turbine.

Book available on offshore power, including wave and tidal

PennWell Corporation announces availability of Offshore Power: Building Renewable Energy Projects in U.S. Waters.

This 496-page book outlines the offshore options available in the U.S., including wave and tidal energy projects. Authors Markian M.W. Melnyk and Robert M. Andersen say developers today can draw from the knowledge gained by early offshore oil and gas prospectors, as well as more recent offshore development in Europe. Melnyk is an attorney who specializes in energy regulation and legislative and public policy. Andersen is an attorney whose specialties include environmental infrastructure and green energy.

Chapters in the book cover:

    – The case for offshore renewable energy;
    – Offshore environmental conditions and energy resources;
    – Machines needed to harvest offshore energy;
    – Project siting decisions;
    – Acquiring rights to project sites;
    – Project review under the National Environmental Policy Act;
    – Federal protections for natural and cultural resources;
    – Managing the public consultation process;
    – Adapting the grid to intermittent renewable energy supplies;
    – Financing and insuring offshore renewable energy projects; and
    – The economic challenge of offshore renewable energy.
    – To buy Offshore Power for US$89, visit: http://store.pennwellbooks.com.


Company using $1 million grant for hydrokinetic technology

Renewable Energy Composite Solutions LLC in Vancouver, Wash., is using a $1 million federal stimulus grant to begin manufacturing hydrokinetic energy components.

The company was founded by Christensen Shipyards in July 2009. Christensen Shipyards has built luxury yachts for more than 25 years, using composite materials. Renewable Energy Composite Solutions will apply this technology to engineering and fabrication projects. The company’s composite materials are strong, lightweight, and impervious to corrosion, says Joe Foggia, managing partner of Renewable Energy Composite Solutions and president of Christensen Shipyards.

The $1 million grant was announced in October 2009. The money will be used to retrofit manufacturing equipment to make buoys that use the continuous wave energy of the ocean to generate power, as well as vertical wind turbines. The company has access to more than 180,000 square feet of climate-controlled manufacturing space.

Engineers with Renewable Energy Composite Solutions are working with the tsunami center at Oregon State University and SAIC, an engineering and technology company in Virginia, to develop its wave technology and build test buoys.

Marine Technology Society awards 29 scholarships

The Marine Technology Society (MTS) has awarded 29 scholarships to students with an interest in ocean technology and instrumentation.

MTS awarded two $2,500, 26 $2,000, and one $1,000 scholarship for the 2009-2010 academic year. Recipients are seniors in high school and undergraduates or graduate students at four-year institutions.

The winners are from 18 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. And the winners are pursuing a variety of degrees, including naval architecture and marine engineering, marine science, mechanical and ocean engineering, coastal and watershed science and policy, and oceanography.

MTS is a not-for-profit professional society comprising ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers, and educators.

Principle Power receives DOE grant for wave energy

Principle Power Inc. is using a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support the development of its WindFloat technology.

Although the scope of the work has not yet been determined, the money will be used for the design, validation, and levelized cost analysis of the floating support structure for wave and wind energy take-off mechanisms. Project partners include the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab and Marine Innovation and Technology.

The funds will be used to modify a WindFloat, a support structure for offshore wind turbines, to accommodate wave-energy generation. The patent-pending WindFloat is owned by Principle Power and was conceived by Marine Innovation and Technology.

HydroVolts wins national sustainability award

HydroVolts, a developer of in-stream hydrokinetic turbines, won the National Sustainability Award at the 2009 Cleantech Open. The open is a business competition for startup companies specializing in clean technologies.

HydroVolts, which formerly was called Puget Sound Tidal Power LLC and is based in Seattle, was chosen from 75 semifinalist companies. The company’s prize: $20,000 in services from Cleantech Open sponsors Climate Earth, B Corp., and NetSuite.

HydroVolts develops turbines that enable distributed clean-energy generation from canals, waterways, spillways, rivers, streams, and tidal currents. The company’s Flipwing Turbine consists of hinged blades or paddles that are pushed by the current against the center shaft, driving the rotation. The turbine is designed to be dropped into an open channel. The units have a capacity of 1 to 20 kW each, depending on the current velocity, the company says.


McGinnis Inc. filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in August 2009 to study the feasibility of building a hydrokinetic power project about 500 feet from the Racine Lock and Dam on the Ohio River in Ohio and West Virginia. The proposal calls for ten barge-mounted turbine-generators with a capacity of 350 kW.

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Re Vision market acceleration study nears completion

Re Vision Consulting LLC plans to complete work on its marine energy market acceleration study by the end of 2009.

This work is being funded through an award of up to $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy. This award was announced in September 2008 under DOE’s research and development solicitation for Advanced Water Power Projects.

The name of the study is Best Siting Practices for Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies with Respect to Environmental and Navigational Impacts. The goal is to establish baseline technology-based scenarios to identify potential navigational and environmental concerns in the siting of marine and hydrokinetic energy devices and to provide data to industry and regulators.

In performing the study, Re Vision focused on tidal and wave energy conversion, says Mirko Previsic, president of Re Vision. The company chose three scales of technology development: pilot, early commercial, and commercial.

For the wave analysis, the company chose two sites, one in Humboldt County, Calif., and the other off the northeast shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Re Vision then chose four wave technologies: Wave Dragon, PowerBuoy from Ocean Power Technologies, Oyster from Aquamarine Power Ltd., and Pelamis from Ocean Prospect.

For the tidal analysis, the company chose one site, Tacoma Narrows in Washington. Re Vision then chose three technologies: SeaGen from Marine Current Turbines, RTT2000 from Lunar Energy Ltd., and TidEL from SMD Hydrovision.

These scales, sites, and technologies will allow the company to put together 24 wave and nine tidal scenarios.

Nine hydro companies named to marine technology list

Marine Technology Reporter named nine companies that do work in the hydroelectric industry to its fourth annual MTR 100 list. The companies named are AXYS Technologies, Deep Ocean Engineering, HTI, Kongsberg Mesotech Ltd., Resolute Marine Energy Inc., SeaBotix Inc., Teledyne Marine, VideoRay LLC, and YSI Inc.

This list showcases the diversity of companies that serve the subsea defense, commercial, and scientific markets, says Gregory R. Trauthwein, associate publisher and editor of Marine Technology Reporter.

Work done by the nine companies:

– AXYS in British Columbia, Canada, manufactures and maintains remote environmental data acquisition, processing, and telemetry systems;

– Deep Ocean is a California-based company that designs and manufactures remotely operated vehicles (ROV);

– HTI in Washington manufactures hydroacoustic fisheries research equipment, including acoustic tags, acoustic tag receivers, and hydroacoustic systems;

– Kongsberg Mesotech is a Vancouver, Canada-based company that designs, manufactures, and sells high-resolution sonar systems and acoustic technology;

– Resolute Marine in Massachusetts focuses on developing wave energy converters;

– SeaBotix is a California-based company that manufactures ROVs;

– Teledyne Marine is a group of ten companies that provides acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping profiling tools, and echo sounders;

– VideoRay is a Pennsylvania-based company that manufactures ROVs; and

– YSI in Ohio provides water quality monitoring instrumentation.

FERC, state of Maine coordinate hydrokinetic project review

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the state of Maine are working to coordinate procedures and schedules for reviewing hydrokinetic energy projects in state waters of Maine.

FERC and the state of Maine signed a memorandum of agreement in August 2009. FERC has signed similar agreements with Washington and Oregon.

FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said the agreement is an important step to pursuing hydrokinetic technologies on the East Coast, reducing some regulatory barriers to developing the emerging forms of hydrokinetic technology. Under terms of the accord, FERC and Maine agree:

– Each will notify the other when one becomes aware of a potential applicant for a preliminary permit, pilot project license, or license;

– The parties will set a schedule for processing applications as early as possible, including milestones for FERC and Maine to complete their processes, and will encourage other federal agencies and stakeholders to comply with the schedules;

– They will coordinate environmental reviews of any proposed projects and will consult with stakeholders, including project developers, on the design of studies and environmental matters;

– FERC will consider to what extent tidal projects are consistent with Maine’s pertinent comprehensive plans; and

– Maine will take action on water quality certification for demonstration hydrokinetic projects within 60 days after accepting an application.

Concepts NREC, Oceanlinx developing ocean power system

Concepts NREC and Oceanlinx Ltd. are moving forward on development of an ocean wave energy converter system, which will be demonstrated off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

This project is one of 14 chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to share in $7.3 million of funding under its research and development solicitation for Advanced Water Power Projects. This award has a value of up to $1.2 million (including cost-share commitments) for up to two years.

Concepts NREC of Vermont and Oceanlinx of New South Wales, Australia, are working to develop a commercially viable 600-kW wave energy converter system. This system is to be deployed as part of a $10 million program being undertaken by Oceanlinx.

The technology Oceanlinx is developing consists of eight 300-kilowatt-equivalent (nominal rating) modular generators tethered to the sea bottom that use oscillating water column technology. In this type of system, the ascension of the wave front compresses the trapped air inside the unit to slightly greater than atmospheric pressure. That compressed air turns turbine-generators to produce electricity at it escapes to the atmosphere.

The proposed work is an extension of the current development activitie on the original 300-kW system, which was tested in 2009 in Port Kembla, New South Wales, Australia.

Concepts NREC is assisting Oceanlinx in analyzing the oscillating water column system and providing detailed designs of the sub-system for the high-speed turbine needed to meet Oceanlinx’s project schedule. (The sub-system consists of all the components used to produce power, except the turbine rotor.) Concepts NREC also is testing the mechanical integrity of several critical mechanical systems that it designed for the Oceanlinx turbine, including the blade articulation and blade-cartridge (lubricated bearing support) mechanisms.

The work is planned to be completed in 24 months. In Phase I, the detailed design, manufacturing, and installation drawings will be prepared, and the mechanical testing described above will be performed. Work on this phase began in February 2009 and is scheduled to be complete by January 2010. In Phase II, the complete system will be built and installed for long-term operation in Maui, Hawaii. This full-scale demonstration consists of eight 300-kW modules and is intended to validate the technology design approach, energy recovery efficiency, reliability, and system economics. Oceanlinx plans to have this installation in place by late 2010.

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