Marine Hydrokinetics

StingRAY wave device being tested at wind center

The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) began validation work earlier this year on the first water power technology tested in NWTC’s 5-MW dynamometer testing facility.

This technology is the StingRAY wave energy converter being developed by Columbia Power Technologies, based in Corvallis, Ore. StingRAY uses a direct drive with a very large diameter, said Columbia Power’s Chief Operating Officer, Reenst Lesemann. NWTC’s dynamometer can mimic the sea, with back-and-forth oscillation, and will put the generator through its paces to ensure it can withstand ocean forces.

“Though designed to benefit the wind industry, NWTC’s large dynamometer facility is being leveraged to help advance new ocean energy technology,” said NWTC Director Daniel Laird.

“We have one of the only facilities in the country with a dynamometer that can apply rotational torque at the speeds and forces required while also applying non-torque loads – which are side forces that simulate the action of a rogue wave hitting a wave energy converter in the ocean,” said Mark McDade, NWTC project manager. “This matters because the structures of these energy conversion devices must be designed to handle the side forces without damage.”

In 2013, the US$20 million facility was opened after being constructed with funding by a grant from DOE and the American Recovery and Investment Act. During the next few months, NREL said, the StingRAY unit will be connected to NWTC’s Controllable Grid Interface for electrical performance characterization.

Open-water demonstration of the system is scheduled for later this year at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii.

US$40 million available for open-ocean U.S. wave energy facility

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide up to US$40 million in funding to build the first open-ocean, power grid-connected wave energy test facility in the U.S. at a site off the Oregon coast.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) made this announcement in late December via a press release The wave energy test site will be built about 6 nautical miles off the coast of Newport, Ore. A partnership of Oregon State University, the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and renewable energy innovators applied for the federal funding earlier this year. The senators, along with Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), urged DOE to award the funding for the Newport site in an October letter.

The funding award will allow the partners to build infrastructure, such as open-water test berths and undersea cables, which private companies would then use to test their current energy technologies. Companies seeking to test their designs at the site will not have to undergo separate permitting and installation processes – lowering the cost and speeding up the process for developing new wave energy technologies, while bringing business and jobs to the area.

Halifax Supreme Court hears arguments for Cape Sharp turbine

According to the Courts of Nova Scotia, the Halifax Supreme Court held hearings in January and February with regard to the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association (BFIFA) challenges to Cape Sharp Tidal Venture Ltd.’s deployment of two, 2-MW tidal energy turbines at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE).

FORCE, located in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, is a Canadian research center for in-stream tidal energy.

No timetable was set for an announcement of a ruling from the court prior to the hearing dates.

At issue is the tidal energy research project’s monitoring program, which was approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment in June 2016. Approval of the monitoring program granted the installation of Cape Sharp Tidal turbines at FORCE.

BFIFA contends the turbines will cause environmental damage and the monitoring program is insufficient.

According to Cape Sharp Tidal, its project is seeking to use the initial 4-MW farm as the first phase of a commercial-scale project. Subject to regulatory approvals, the development will grow to an output of 16 MW [six more turbines] in 2017, 50 MW [17 more turbines] in 2019, and up to 300 MW [150 more turbines] of energy in the 2020s, generating power for nearly 75,000 customers.

In October 2016, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia announced its decision to deny a request from BFIFA to stop a planned tidal turbine deployment prior to the scheduled 2017 hearing review on project environmental concerns before the court.

Marine Hydrokinetics

Canadian, Welsh organizations sign collaboration agreement

Organizations from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are showing their commitment to developing the marine energy sector through a collaborative agreement signed by Marine Renewables Canada and Marine Energy Wales in late November.

MRC and MEW serve similar roles, acting as advocates for wave, tidal and in-stream power by representing project developers, utilities, researchers and supply chain stakeholders.

MRC is providing significant support for Canada’s Fundy Ocean Research Center (FORCE), with developers including OpenHydro, DP Energy, Atlantis Resources, Schottel and Tocardo hoping to deploy marine energy units at the Bay of Fundy test bed in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Wales is home to more than US$106 million in European Union financing earmarked to stimulate the country’s marine energy sector which, according to a number of recent studies, could explode into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Wales is also home to marine energy test sites of its own, including the recently apportioned Morlais Marine Energy Demonstration Zone.

“The ultimate goal is to create a new low carbon global industry, where skills and knowledge are exportable worldwide,” MEW Director David Jones said. “Wales is developing those skills. Collaborating with Marine Renewables Canada and sharing experiences will be a real benefit moving forward.”

FORCE marked a milestone earlier this month as Cape Sharp Tidal — a joint venture between OpenHydro and Emera — deployed and connected a 2-MW turbine to Nova Scotia’s grid.

U.S. DOE extends Title XVII application deadlines

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) has added new application deadlines for its current Title XVII loan guarantee solicitations. Hydrokinetic technologies — such as ocean wave, tidal, and in-stream technologies — are eligible.

The Title XVII program provides loan guarantees to accelerate the deployment of innovative clean energy technology. The next Part I application deadline is Jan. 18, 2017.

DOE is authorized to issue loan guarantees pursuant to Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Loan guarantees are made to qualified projects and applicants who apply for funding in response to open technology-specific solicitations.

LPO is accepting applications in response to the following open Title XVII solicitations: Advanced fossil energy projects solicitation; advanced nuclear energy projects solicitation; and renewable energy and efficient energy projects solicitation.

The extension of the effective period for LPO’s Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) number was extended for three years, allowing LPO to issue new Part I and Part II application deadlines into 2019.

Conventional hydropower — new and incremental — if already commercially deployed in the U.S., is not considered new or significantly improved and therefore is not eligible for the program.

All projects deemed eligible for a loan guarantee must use “new or significantly improved” technologies compared to commercial technologies already in the marketplace. Projects also must avoid, sequester or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollutants.

Potential applicants should direct any questions to lgprogram@hq.doe.gov.

EMEC announces collaboration, shortlisted for energy award

The European Marine Energy Centre announced in mid-November that it is kicking off a joint project with the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy in Canada, looking at the difference in corrosion and underwater behavior of marine coatings on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The two marine energy test facilities will work with Whitford, a coatings manufacturer. EMEC says the initiative can be traced back to a declaration made in 2011 on increasing growth, trade and innovation that committed Canada and the UK to work together to drive forward marine energy innovation.

“Corrosion and other associated issues are a big challenge for wave and tidal energy technologies given that devices could be deployed at sea for years at a time,” says Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC. “The inclusion of a technology testing program … will help provide a different experience if [technology developers] then decide to deploy in Canada, or vice versa.”

In addition, EMEC has been shortlisted for the Marine Energy Technology of the Year award at the Business Green Technology Awards 2016. They are meant to celebrate start-ups and established technology and engineering companies that are “turning the dream of a sustainable green economy into a reality.”

FloWave won the award in 2015 and the company’s chief executive officer, Stuart Brown, nominated EMEC for 2016.