ocean energy

United States

First grid-connected ocean energy project passes milestone

At the end of July, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) hosted a dedication ceremony in Eastport, Maine (US) to celebrate its Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project: the first phase of the company’s Maine Tidal Energy Project, and the first commercial, grid-connected ocean energy project in the United States.
First grid-connected ocean energy project passes milestone

The Bay of Fundy, located on the border between eastern Maine and Canada, is one of the most robust tidal energy resources in the world. Each day, 100 billion tons of water flow in and out of this bay, with the force of 8,000 locomotives and tidal ranges of up to 50 feet or more.

At its mouth, off of Eastport and Lubec, Maine, ORPC recently installed the first of its commercial power systems forming part of the Maine Tidal Energy Project. The Cobscook Bay tidal energy convertor was officially inaugurated on 24 July, and will soon be joined by similar devices at Kendall Head and in Western Passage: All three devices will be connected to the New England power pool through the Bangor Hydro utility grid.

Since 2006, ORPC has been working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to secure the necessary permits to deploy the Maine Tidal Energy Project. At the same time, the company has continually engaged with the local communities of Lubec and Eastport in what it describes as “a collaborative dialogue”, and has sought their input and advice at every step of the development process.

“We have forged strong relationships with City of Eastport and Town of Lubec officials, the Eastport Port Authority, the Cobscook Bay Resource Center, the Cobscook Bay Fisherman's Association and area fishermen, local harbor pilots, The Boat School, Sunrise County Economic Council, the public and other local organizations, who have all expressed enthusiastic support for our efforts,” says the company on its website, adding that the work involved in building installing, testing, and monitoring our power systems has also created local job opportunities, which will significantly increase in the future.

In 2008, ORPC became the first company to generate electricity from Bay of Fundy tidal currents without the use of dams. A yearlong program of in-water testing also proved our prototype turbine generator unit to be a technical success. As the next step towards commercializing ORPC power systems, in 2010 it deployed, operated and tested a beta pre-commercial version of its TidGen™ Power System, which met or exceeded all technical expectations. This Beta TidGen™ System was the largest ocean energy device to ever be deployed in the United States.

July’s ceremony to inaugurate the Cobscook device will now see the company running and monitoring this initial system for a year, after which it will install additional power systems over the ensuing three years to increase the project’s capacity to 3 megawatts – enough electricity to power 1,200 Maine homes and businesses with clean tidal energy.

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