Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Tidal Stream’

PETER ASMUS, Pike Research, June 17, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoThe earth is the water planet, so it should come as no great surprise that forms of water power have been one of the world’s most popular “renewable” energy sources. Yet the largest water power source of all – the ocean that covers three-quarters of earth – has yet to be tapped in any major way for power generation. There are three primary reasons for this:

  • The first is the nature of the ocean itself, a powerful resource that cannot be privately owned like land that typically serves as the foundation for site control for terrestrial power plants of all kinds;
  • The second is funding. Hydropower was heavily subsidized during the Great Depression, but little public investment has since been steered toward marine renewables with the exception of ocean thermal technologies, which were perceived to be a failure.
  • The third reason why the ocean has not yet been industrialized on behalf of energy production is that the technologies, materials and construction techniques did not exist until now to harness this renewable energy resource in any meaningful and cost effective way.

Literally hundreds of technology designs from more than 100 firms are competing for attention as they push a variety emerging ocean renewable options. Most are smaller upstart firms, but a few larger players – Scottish Power, Lockheed Martin and Pacific Gas & Electric — are engaged and seeking new business opportunities in the marine renewables space. Oil companies Chevron, BP and Shell are also investing in the sector.

In the U.S., the clear frontrunner among device developers is Ocean Power Technologies (OPT). It was the first wave power company to issue successful IPOs through the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market for approximately $40 million and then another on the U.S. Stock Exchange in 2007 for $100 million. OPT has a long list of projects in the pipeline, including the first “commercial” installation in the U.S. in Reedsport, Oregon in 2010, which could lead to the first 50 MW wave farm in the U.S. A nearby site in Coos Bay, Oregon represents another potential 100 MW deployment.

While the total installed capacity of emerging “second generation” marine hydrokinetic resources – a category that includes wave, tidal stream, ocean current, ocean thermal and river hydrokinetic resources – was less than 10 MW at the end of 2008, a recent surge in interest in these new renewable options has generated a buzz, particularly in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Portugal, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, among other countries. It is expected that within the next five to eight years, these emerging technologies will become commercialized to the point that they can begin competing for a share of the burgeoning market for carbon-free and non-polluting renewable resources.

The five technologies covered in a new report by Pike Research are the following:

  • Tidal stream turbines often look suspiciously like wind turbines placed underwater. Tidal projects comprise over 90 percent of today’s marine kinetic capacity totals, but the vast majority of this installed capacity relies upon first generation “barrage” systems still relying upon storage dams.
  • Wave energy technologies more often look more like metal snakes that can span nearly 500 feet, floating on the ocean’s surface horizontally, or generators that stand erect vertically akin to a buoy. Any western coastline in the world has wave energy potential.
  • River hydrokinetic technologies are also quite similar to tidal technologies, relying on the kinetic energy of moving water, which can be enhanced by tidal flows, particularly at the mouth of a river way interacting with a sea and/or ocean.
  • Ocean current technologies are similar to tidal energy technologies, only they can tap into deeper ocean currents that are located offshore. Less developed than either tidal or wave energy, ocean current technologies, nevertheless, are attracting more attention since the resource is 24/7.
  • Ocean thermal energy technologies take a very different approach to generating electricity, capturing energy from the differences in temperature between the ocean surface and lower depths, and can also deliver power 24/7.

While there is a common perception that the U.S. and much of the industrialized world has tapped out its hydropower resources, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) disputes this claim. According to its assessment, the U.S. has the water resources to generate from 85,000 to 95,000 more megawatts (MW) from this non-carbon energy source, with 23,000 MW available by 2025. Included in this water power assessment are new emerging marine kinetic technologies. In fact, according to EPRI, ocean energy and hydrokinetic sources (which includes river hydrokinetic technologies) will nearly match conventional new hydropower at existing sites in new capacity additions in the U.S. between 2010 and 2025.

The UN projects that the total “technically exploitable” potential for waterpower (including marine renewables) is 15 trillion kilowatt-hours, equal to half of the projected global electricity use in the year 2030. Of this vast resource potential, roughly 15% has been developed so far. The UN and World Energy Council projects 250 GW of hydropower will be developed by 2030. If marine renewables capture just 10% of this forecasted hydropower capacity, that figure represents 25 GW, a figure Pike Research believes is a valid possibility and the likely floor on market scope.

The demand for energy worldwide will continue to grow at a dramatic clip between 2009 and 2025, with renewable energy sources overtaking natural gas as the second largest source behind coal by 2015 (IEA, 2008). By 2015, the marine renewable market share of this renewable energy growth will still be all but invisible as far as the IEA statistics are concerned, but development up to that point in time will determine whether these sources will contribute any substantial capacity by 2025. By 2015, Pike Research shows a potential of over 22 GW of all five technologies profiled in this report could come on-line. Two of the largest projects – a 14 GW tidal barrage in the U.K. and a 2.2 GW tidal fence in the Philippines — may never materialize, and/or will not likely be on-line by that date, leaving a net potential of more than 14 GW.

By 2025, at least 25 GW of total marine renewables will be developed globally. If effective carbon regulations in the U.S. are in place by 2010, and marine renewable targets established by various European governments are met, marine renewables and river hydrokinetic technologies could provide as much as 200 GW by 2025: 115 GW wave; 57 GW tidal stream; 20 GW tidal barrage; 4 GW ocean current; 3 GW river hydrokinetic; 1 GW OTEC.

About the author: Peter Asmus is an industry analyst with Pike Research and has been covering the energy sector for 20 years. His recent report on the ocean energy sector for Pike Research is now available, and more information can be found at http://www.pikeresearch.com. His new book, Introduction to Energy in California, is now available from the University of California Press (www.peterasmus.com).

Read Full Post »

PETER BROWN, EnergyCurrent.com, February 16, 2009

stromnessOn a Monday morning in May last year, the Atlantic tide set a turbine in motion on the seabed off Orkney, and the energy captured was connected to the national grid. It was, said Jim Mather, Scotland’s Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, a “massive step forward”.

The amount of electricity generated may have been tiny, but for marine engineers the significance was huge. Their industry had stopped paddling and started to swim.

For small companies trying to get wave or tide devices off the drawing board and into the sea, many problems lie in wait. All turbines, whether they sit on the seabed or float, must withstand that once-in-a-century wave that could be a thousand times more powerful than the average. Conditions vary with the seasons and the seabed. A device that works in a fjord might not function in a firth. Rigorous, long-term testing is therefore vital.

“There are parallels with wind,” says Alan Mortimer, head of renewables policy at Scottish Power. “Many different types of turbine were proposed in the early Eighties. They boiled down to a small number of successful concepts. The same needs to happen with marine devices, but the difference is that they need to be full- size just to be tested.

“To get a reasonable number of prototypes into the water costs millions. What these small companies need is capital support.”

That, however, is hard to find. The Wave and Tidal Energy Support Scheme (Wates), which put GBP13.5 million into promising technologies, is now closed. Last year the Scottish Government offered the 10m Saltire Prize for a commercially viable scheme, but the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), in its recent report Marine Energy: More Than Just a Drop in the Ocean?, called on the Government to provide another 40m.

This would go towards schemes to be tested at EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre, which has two supported sites, with grid access, at Orkney. It was there that an Irish company, OpenHydro, made the grid breakthrough last year. “It’s desperately important that we grasp the nettle now,” says William Banks, IMechE’s president. “We have the micro-systems in place and I’d like to see them developed to the macro stage. However, unless we do that step by step, we’ll be in trouble.”

An estimated 50 teams are working around the world on marine energy. The danger is that Britain, and Scotland in particular, could lose the race, even though, as Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, says, “Scotland has a marine energy resource which is unrivalled in Europe.”

Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s tidal resources and a tenth of its wave potential.

Around 1,000 people work in Scottish marine energy, but that figure could billow. “You’re talking about an exercise that could transform the marine industry into something equivalent to oil and gas,” says Martin McAdam, whose company, Aquamarine Power, is growing fast.

Among his rivals in Scotland are AWS Ocean Energy, based near Inverness, with Archimedes, a submerged wave machine; Hammerfest UK, which wants to develop three 60MW tidal sites and is working with Scottish Power; Pelamis Wave Power, who are based in Edinburgh; and Scotrenewables, based in Orkney, who are currently developing a floating tidal turbine.

Politicians need to be educated about marine energy’s potential, says Banks. Indeed, IMechE has highlighted the need for sustained political leadership if what many see as the biggest problem – that of the grid – is to be solved. Why bring energy onshore if it can’t then reach homes?

“Grids were built to connect large power stations to cities. Now you’re going to have electricity generated all over the countryside. It’s a huge challenge,” says McAdam.

“We have had meetings with Ofgen and the national grid companies and we’re outlining the need to have grids to support at least 3,000MW of energy by 2020. That is definitely possible.” McAdam adds: “A European undersea grid is also being promoted and we’re very supportive of that.”

Such a system would help to overcome a frequent objection to renewables – their fickleness. If waves were strong in Scotland, Finland or France could benefit, and vice versa.

Another challenge is the cost of installation. “At the moment we’re competing with oil and gas for boats,” says McAdam. “We need to move away from using heavy-lift, jack-up vessels.” The answer might be devices that can be floated into position and then weighted down.

The race between suppliers is speeding up. Permission for a 4MW station at Siadar, off Lewis in the Western Isles, has just been granted to Wavegen, based in Inverness, and Npower Renewables. It could power about 1,500 homes, creating 70 jobs.

Among the success stories are the three 140-metre, red tubes developed by Pelamis (named after a sea serpent) which already float off the northern Portuguese coast at Aguadoura. More Pelamis turbines are to be installed at EMEC, along with Aquamarine’s wave device Oyster.

Oyster is basically a giant flap which feeds wave energy onshore to be converted to electricity. It has already been made, at a former oil and gas plant at Nigg, north of Inverness. A high- pressure pipeline was completed in December and a hydro-electric station will be installed this spring. In the summer, Oyster will finally be bolted to piles hammered into the seabed.

Unlike wave energy, tidal power needs a channel between two land masses – and in the roaring Pentland Firth, between Caithness and Orkney, Scotland has what has been called “the Saudi Arabia of marine power”, Europe’s largest tidal resource. To exploit it, a GBP2 million contract to build Aquamarine’s tidal power device, Neptune, was awarded last month. It will be tested at EMEC.

Elsewhere, SeaGen, an “underwater windmill” developed by a Bristol company, has just generated 1.2MW near the mouth of Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.
But the most controversial of Britain’s tidal energy schemes is, of course, in the Severn Estuary, where a barrage could provide around 5% of Britain’s energy. Environmentalists fear irreparable damage to marshes and mudflats, but the Government is known to prefer the barrage to other, smaller options. The decision it takes next year is sure to be eagerly watched in Scotland.

Somewhat overshadowed by the Severn plan is Wave Hub, a project to build a wave-power station 10 miles off St Ives, on Cornwall’s north coast, using both Pelamis and a sea-bed device developed by ORECon of Plymouth. An application to create a safety area around it has just been submitted, part of the meticulous planning that precedes any marine trial.

“We have to have environmentalists looking at the impact on fisheries, flora and fauna,” says McAdam. “And we have to be completely open with the communities we’re going into. But most people realise that climate change and energy security are real things. We want to minimalise our environmental impact and give the country a means of isolating itself from the volatility of oil and gas.”

In theory, marine energy could generate a fifth of the UK’s electricity needs, but that would require a multitude of stations. Bill Banks believes nuclear power will be needed. “But we also need a variety of renewables,” he says. “Marine will take its place along with bio, hydro and wind energy. It’s available, it’s there at the moment, and if we get our act together I think we can lead Europe. We need a synergy of activity.”

Read Full Post »

RenewableEnergyWorld.com, January 27, 2009 

One Choice

One Option on the Shortlist

A shortlist of proposed plans to generate electricity from the power of the tides in the Severn estuary has been unveiled by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has also announced £500,000 [US $702,000] of new funding to further develop early-stage technologies like tidal reefs and fences. The progress of these technologies will be considered before decisions are taken whether to go ahead with a Severn tidal power scheme.

The tides in the Severn estuary are the second highest in the world. The largest proposal being taken forward has the potential to generate nearly 5% of the UK’s electricity from this domestic, low carbon and sustainable source.

Over the past year, the Government-led feasibility study has been investigating a list of ten options, gathering information on the costs, benefits and environmental challenges of using the estuary to generate power.

The proposed shortlist is includes:       

  • Cardiff Weston Barrage: A barrage crossing the Severn estuary from Brean Down, near Weston super Mare to Lavernock Point, near Cardiff. Its estimated capacity is over 8.6 gigawatts (GW).
  • Shoots Barrage: Further upstream of the Cardiff Weston scheme. Capacity of 1.05 GW, similar to a large fossil fuel plant.
  • Beachley Barrage: The smallest barrage on the proposed shortlist, just above the Wye River. It could generate 625 MW.
  • Bridgwater Bay Lagoon: Lagoons are radical new proposals which impound a section of the estuary without damming it. This plan is sited on the English shore between east of Hinkley Point and Weston super Mare. It could generate 1.36 GW.
  • Fleming Lagoon: An impoundment on the Welsh shore of the estuary between Newport and the Severn road crossings. It too could generate 1.36 GW.The proposed shortlist will now be subject to a three month public consultation which begins this week.

“Fighting climate change is the biggest long term challenge we face and we must look to use the UK’s own natural resources to generate clean, green electricity. The Severn estuary has massive potential to help achieve our climate change and renewable energy targets. We want to see how that potential compares against the other options for meeting our goals,” said UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

Read Full Post »

TERRY DILLMAN, South Lincoln County News, September 23, 2008

Oregon’s emergence as a national leader in developing wave energy technology crested Thursday, when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced grant support to establish the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) in Newport.

The agency selected 14 research teams to receive as much as $7.3 million -representing a cost-shared value of more than $18 million – for projects to “advance commercial viability, cost-competitiveness, and market acceptance of new technologies that can harness renewable energy from oceans and rivers.” It’s part of the federal Advanced Energy Initiative designed to dramatically boost clean-energy research funding to develop cleaner, reliable alternative energy sources that cost less. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) signed into law in December 2007 authorizes DOE to establish a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to expand marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy production.

“Wave, tidal, and current-driven hydro power is an important clean, natural, and domestic energy source that will promote energy security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” John Mizroch, acting assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy, noted in announcing the selections.

A merit review committee of national and international water power experts made the selections. Two awards of up to $1.25 million in annual funding, renewable for up to five years, went to establishing marine energy centers.

One went to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu for the National Renewable Marine Energy Center.

The other went to OSU and the University of Washington to establish the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at HMSC, with “a full range of capabilities to support wave and tidal energy development” for the nation. DOE officials want the center to “facilitate commercialization, inform regulatory and policy decisions, and close key gaps in understanding.”

The federal grant will add to funding from the Oregon legislature, OSU, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET), the University of Washington and other sources to bring in $13.5 million in five years to – according to Robert Paasch, the interim program director for the new center – “help move the generation of energy from waves, ocean currents and tides from the laboratory to part of the nation’s alternative energy future.”

The main effort is to build a floating “berth” to test wave energy technology off the Oregon coast near Newport, as well as fund extensive environmental impact studies, community outreach, and other initiatives.

“This is just the beginning,” Paasch added. “There’s still a lot of work to do on the technology, testing, and environmental studies. But we have no doubt that this technology will work, that wave energy can become an important contributor to energy independence for the United States.”

Oregon can now lead those efforts, thanks to involvement by numerous partners.

The state legislature committed $3 million in capital funding to help create the new wave energy test center.

OWET – a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 2007 and funded by Oregon Inc. to be an integral part of the state’s effort to become the leader in renewable wave energy development – has provided $250,000 in funding, and is working to coordinate support from government agencies, private industry, fishing, environmental, and community groups.

OWET’s goal is to have ocean wave energy producing at least 500 megawatts of energy by 2025 for Oregon consumption.

The University of Washington has committed funding support and will take the lead role in innovative research on tidal and ocean current energy. The National Renewable Energy Center in Golden, Colo., will support studies on how to integrate wave energy into the larger power grid, and help it take its place next to other alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.

Lincoln County officials immersed themselves in the effort from the outset. OSU’s wave energy test site is off county shores, and groups such as the Newport-based FINE – Fisherman Involved in Natural Energy – are active in providing input and advice from coastal constituencies.

“Oregon is now the unquestioned national leader in marine renewable energy,” Paasch said. “But as this technology is still in its infancy, we want to get things right the first time. We need extensive research on environmental impacts, we need to work with community groups and fishermen, and we need our decisions to be based on sound science as we move forward.”

OSU’s College of Engineering, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Hatfield Marine Science Center will lead technology development, as well as diverse research programs on possible environmental impacts on the wave resource, shores, marine mammals and other marine life.

Construction of the new floating test berth should begin in 2010, Paasch said, after design, engineering work and permits have been completed. The facility will open on a fee basis to private industry groups that want to test their technology, and will provide detailed power analysis, as well as a method to dissipate the power.

“When complete, we’ll be able to test devices, see exactly how much power they generate and be able to assess their environmental impact, using technologies such as the OSU Marine Radar Wave Imaging System and on-site wave sensors,” Paasch

OSU will also continue its own research on wave energy technology led by Annette von Jouanne, professor of electrical engineering.

The university is working closely with private industry partners, recently finished a linear test bed to do preliminary testing of new technology on the OSU campus, and will test prototypes that OSU researchers consider as having the best combination of power production, efficiency and durability. In 2007, the university hosted a workshop to begin looking at the potential ecological implications of establishing wave energy parks along the West Coast. On-going research will continue to ponder that and many other questions.  Much of that research will take place at HMSC.

Read Full Post »

KATE GALBRAITH, The New York Times, September 23, 2008

For years, technological visionaries have painted a seductive vision of using ocean tides and waves to produce power. They foresee large installations off the coast and in tidal estuaries that could provide as much as 10% of the nation’s electricity.

But the technical difficulties of making such systems work are proving formidable. Last year, a wave-power machine sank off the Oregon coast. Blades have broken off experimental tidal turbines in New York’s turbulent East River. Problems with offshore moorings have slowed the deployment of snakelike generating machines in the ocean off Portugal.

Years of such problems have discouraged ocean-power visionaries, but have not stopped them. Lately, spurred by rising costs for electricity and for the coal and other fossil fuels used to produce it, they are making a new push to overcome the barriers blocking this type of renewable energy.

The Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power plans to turn on a small wave-energy farm — the world’s first — off the coast of Portugal by year’s end, after fixing the broken moorings. Finavera Renewables, a Canadian company that recently salvaged its sunken, $2.5 million Oregon wave-power machine, has signed an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to produce power off the California coast by 2012. And in the East River, just off Manhattan, two newly placed turbines with tougher blades and rotors are feeding electricity into a grocery store and parking garage on Roosevelt Island.

“It’s frustrating sometimes as an ocean energy company to say, yeah, your device sank,” said Jason Bak, chief executive of Finavera. “But that is technology development.”

Roughly 100 small companies around the world are working on converting the sea’s power to electricity. Many operate in Europe, where governments have pumped money into the industry. Companies and governments alike are betting that over time, costs will come down. Right now, however, little electricity is being generated from the ocean except at scattered test sites around the world.

The East River — despite its name, it is really a tidal strait with powerful currents — is the site of the most advanced test project in the United States.

Verdant Power, the company that operates it, was forced to spend several years and millions of dollars mired in a slow permit process, even before its turbine blades broke off in the currents. The company believes it is getting a handle on the problems. Verdant is trying to perfect its turbines and then install 30 of them in the East River, starting no later than spring 2010, and to develop other sites in Canada and on the West Coast.

Plenty of other start-ups also plan commercial ocean-power plants, at offshore sites such as Portugal, Oregon and Wales, but none have been built.

Ocean-power technology splits into two broad categories, tidal and wave power. Wave power, of the sort Finavera is pursuing, entails using the up and down motions of the waves to generate electricity. Tidal power — Verdant’s province — involves harnessing the action of the tides with underwater turbines, which twirl like wind machines.

(Decades-old tidal technologies in France and Canada use barrage systems that trap water at high tide; they are far larger and more obtrusive than the new, below-waterline technologies.)

A third type of power, called ocean thermal, aims to exploit temperature differences between the surface and deep ocean, mainly applicable in the tropics.

Ocean power has more potential than wind power because water is about 850 times denser than air, and therefore packs far more energy. The ocean’s waves, tides and currents are also more predictable than the wind.

The drawback is that seawater can batter and corrode machinery, and costly undersea cables may be needed to bring the power to shore. And the machines are expensive to build: Pelamis has had to raise the equivalent of $77 million.

Many solar start-ups, by contrast, need as little as $5 million to build a prototype, said Martin Lagod, co-founder of Firelake Capital Management, a Silicon Valley investment firm. Mr. Lagod looked at investing in ocean power a few years ago and decided against it because of the long time horizons and large capital requirements.

General Electric, which builds wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment for virtually every other type of energy, has stayed clear of ocean energy. “At this time, these sources do not appear to be competitive with more scalable alternatives like wind and solar,” said Daniel Nelson, a G.E. spokesman, in an e-mail message. (An arm of G.E. has made a small investment in Pelamis.)

Worldwide, venture capital going to ocean-power companies has risen from $8 million in 2005 to $82 million last year, according to the Cleantech Group, a research firm. However, that is a tiny fraction of the money pouring into solar energy and biofuels.

This month the Energy Department doled out its first major Congressionally-funded grants since 1992 to ocean-power companies, including Verdant and Lockheed Martin, which is studying ocean thermal approaches.

Assuming that commercial ocean-power farms are eventually built, the power is likely to be costly, especially in the near term. A recent study commissioned by the San Francisco Public Utility Commission put the cost of harnessing the Golden Gate’s tides at 85 cents to $1.40 a kilowatt-hour, or roughly 10 times the cost of wind power. San Francisco plans to forge ahead regardless.

Other hurdles abound, including sticky environmental and aesthetic questions. In Oregon, crabbers worry that the wave farm proposed by Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey company, would interfere with their prime crabbing grounds.

“It’s right where every year we deploy 115,000 to 120,000 crab pots off the coast for an eight-month period to harvest crab,” said Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. The commission wants to support renewable energy, but “we’re kind of struggling with that,” Mr. Furman said

George Taylor, chief executive of Ocean Power Technologies, said he did not expect “there will be a problem with the crabs.”

In Washington State, where a utility is studying the possibility of installing tidal power at the Admiralty Inlet entrance to Puget Sound, scuba divers are worried, even as they recognize the need for clean power.

Said Mike Racine, president of the Washington Scuba Alliance: “We don’t want to be dodging turbine blades, right?”

Read Full Post »

Renewable Energy Development Blog, April 23, 2008

DeltaStream by Eco2The latest Tidal Energy venture is a demonstration project in Welsh waters backed by renewable energy developer Eco2, investing £150,000 into Tidal Energy Limited as the company installs DeltaStream. The finance needed by Tidal Energy Limited, which was formerly known as Tidal Hydraulic Generators, will fund the prototype phase of this 12 month operation, reaching £6 million. Eco2 will fund £1 million which has been matched by the Carbon Connections Development Fund.

DeltaStream is tidal stream technology, distinct from other devices as it does not require fixing to the sea bed. Each DeltaStream energy device is a 1.2MW capacity generator made up of three turbines in a triangular frame. The frame itself is comparatvely light which will positioning with a minimum of effort. To prevent the DeltaStream from being shifted by the currents it will require some form of ballasting.

The DeltaStream is modular as the components can be exchanged for maintenance or repair. This makes the DeltaStream energy device considerably cheaper to maintain than comparable tidal systems.

Tidal Energy Limited plans to begin manufacturing the device later in 2008 with a view to beginning full-scale installation in 2009.

David Williams, Chief Executive of Eco2, said: “This is an important development as it literally takes renewable power generation out of sight, minimising environmental impact, yet harnessing the largely untapped energy resources of the oceans, far more cost effectively than before. We believe this is the most aesthetic and energy efficient solution yet to meeting EU renewable energy targets.”

More information can be found by reading the Carbon Connection DeltaStream Case Study.

Some more Tidal Energy turbines in development around the world

SeaGen at Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland
Tocardo Turbines at Pentland Firth, Scotland
Rotech Tidal Turbines at Wando Hoenggan Waterway, South Korea
Free Flow Turbines at St Lawrence River, Canada

Read Full Post »

http://www.inthenews.uk.co, April 7, 2008

Planning permission has been granted by the Energy Secretary for a tidal stream generator to be tested in the Humber estuary, Stallingborough, United Kingdom.

When in the water the prototype model is estimated to generate up to 0.15MW and it will be one of the first tidal power machines to supply Great Britain’s national grid.

The generator will be positioned off the south bank of the Humber at Upper Burcom near Stallingborough.

It will work by extracting energy from underwater currents in a similar way to wind turbines.

Energy from tidal flows will power a pair of straight horizontal hydrofoils, 11m in length, which will move up and down like a dolphin’s tail.

If it is successful then it will be used to develop larger 1MW units which could be used in arrays generating up to 100MW each. This is enough to power the equivalent of 70,000 homes.

The project, developed by Pulse Tidal Ltd., has been given backing of £878,000 from the government.

“Our continued support for these emerging technologies is essential if the UK is to cement its position as a world leader in marine technologies,” said Energy Secretary John Hutton.
“I have made clear our commitments to renewable energy and to marine technologies. We will be doubling the support available for those technologies under the Renewables Obligation.

“This kind of tidal project, if proven, will go some way to helping the UK meet its ambitious targets for clean, green energy.”

Read Full Post »

ANTHONY DOESBURG, New Zealand Herald, April 28, 2008

An experimental turbine generating 1MW will be installed in Cook Strait off Island Bay Summer 2008, costing $10 million.

A prototype of what is likely to be the first turbine for tapping the tidal energy of New Zealand waters is sailing around Scottish seas bolted to a ship.

Christchurch company Neptune Power wants to begin installing an experimental turbine in Cook Strait next summer, based on the design being tested off Scotland.

Neptune received resource consent from the Greater Wellington Regional Council this month for a trial that can last up to 10 years.

Neptune director Chris Bathurst said the company was awaiting the results of the shipboard testing before buying a turbine from the unnamed manufacturer.

So far it has been established that the turbine rotates as intended and now performance and reliability testing is under way.

“Because they wanted to measure how much power it develops at exact speeds, they’ve bolted it to the front of this vessel, which is much easier than measuring where you’ve got variable tidal flows,” Bathurst said.

The turbine Neptune intends installing at a cost of $10 million 4.5km off Wellington’s Island Bay will have a maximum generation capacity of 1MW – enough for about 500 homes.

That is a fraction of the 12GW of power – 1.5 times New Zealand’s present generation capacity – Bathurst calculates could be extracted from Cook Strait at a cost of billions.

Bathurst, a mechanical engineer with a background in the aluminium smelting industry, is not daunted by that sum. He says he is well versed in capital raising, having been involved from the beginning in a successful US$1.3 billion smelter project in Mozambique.

“I’m quite sure we could bring in overseas money for this because people will see it as a way of attracting carbon credits.”

But he wants New Zealand investors to have priority, and would like up to a third of the venture’s value to be available to the public.

“We’ve turned various offers of investment down because first we wanted to get resource consent and know that the technology is going to work. Then we would go after the money, and we’re at that stage now.”

It is intended that the turbines will be made in New Zealand. The 14m-diameter machines are made of carbon fibre so yacht builders are potential manufacturing partners.

The turbine’s carbon fibre construction should give it three times the generation capacity per tonne of a conventional wind turbine, Bathurst said.

“It’s very light. That means when we get into mass production it will be correspondingly cheaper as well. Manufacturing costs generally are in line with the mass of the materials used.”

Bathurst can see New Zealand becoming an exporter of marine energy expertise in the same way that it is a world leader in geothermal power generation.

The turbine itself might be light but it will be held in place by a concrete tank weighted with 700 tonnes of a material that is yet to be finalised.

The trial turbine will be anchored with a heavier weight than is likely to be needed for the production turbines because it is not known what forces they will have to withstand.

“After we’ve had it down for a period and analysed the forces, we’ll be able to be more accurate about the weight needed.”

The turbine will be placed in waters known as the “Karori rip”, an area where the tidal current changes orientation from east-west to north-south where Wellington juts into Cook Strait.

“That speeds up the current at that point – a bit like a bend in a river,” Bathurst said.

Power from the trial turbine is expected to be brought ashore at Vector’s Island Bay substation.

Read Full Post »

Nova Scotia Premier’s Office, January 8, 2008

Nova Scotia is one step closer to building North America’s first in-stream tidal technology centre to host some of the world’s leading devices to harness energy from the world’s highest tides.

Three candidates, representing technologies from Canada, U.S.A. and Ireland, have cleared the first hurdle in their bid to demonstrate tidal devices in the Bay of Fundy and the province has given Minas Basin Pulp and Power conditional approval to build the host facility.

“These companies know what we know — the Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s best sites for tidal development,” said Premier Rodney MacDonald. “And today we are a step closer to proving it. This facility can become a landmark centre of excellence in our efforts to provide cleaner sources of energy.

“The more we move away from coal-based electricity, the more we protect our environment — a key priority for this government.”

The facility will be funded by a $4.7-million grant from the province’s Ecotrust for Clean Air and Climate Change program, a $3-million zero-interest loan from EnCana Corporation’s Environmental Innovation Fund, and significant contributions from each of the successful developers. The province will also make $300,000 available for environmental and permitting work.

“We are grateful for the shared desire today to help create a brand new industry,” said Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt. “And we are pleased to welcome some of the world’s most promising technology to our province. If we combine that technology with Nova Scotia’s offshore expertise, research capacity and enormous tidal resource, this can become a truly outstanding centre of excellence.”

Gerry Protti, president of EnCana Corporation’s offshore and international division added,”EnCana is pleased to support the development of a promising and untapped energy resource here in Nova Scotia. Unlocking the unconventional power of the tides requires innovative thinking and the kind of creative partnerships that will be generated at this centre.”

The three candidates in negotiations for first occupancy in the proposed facility are:

      

  • Clean Current (using a Clean Current Mark III Turbine)
  • Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd. (UEK Hydrokinetic Turbine)
  • Nova Scotia Power Inc. (OpenHydro Turbine)
  •  

     

Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company proposes to construct the facility infrastructure, which would connect all tidal devices from the Bay of Fundy to the Nova Scotia electric grid.

“As a Nova Scotia company, we’re extremely pleased to play a role in moving tidal technology forward,” said John Woods, vice-president of energy at Minas Basin Pulp and Power. “The fact that we’ll be working together with devices from both North America and Europe shows the potential global reach of this technology.”

Glen Darou, Clean Current’s president and CEO added, “Nova Scotia is demonstrating strong leadership in sponsoring this world-class demonstration site. The Clean Current team is delighted to be part of this history-making event. The Clean Current Mark III turbine that we will install here is simple, efficient and environmentally friendly.”

Ralph Tedesco, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power said
“Nova Scotia Power and OpenHydro are proud to be helping harness this silent, invisible, predictable energy — renewable liquid gold from the Bay of Fundy.”

“Tidal energy has the potential to help Nova Scotia meet its 2020 deadline to cut greenhouse gas to 10% below 1990 levels,” said Mr. Hurlburt. “But please remember — a number of conditions must be met before anything goes in the water.”

These conditions include the completion of:

      

  • A strategic environmental assessment (expected spring 2008 )
  • Site-specific environmental assessment(s)
  • Provincial and federal permits and approvals
  • A contribution agreement between province and developer(s)
  • A land lease agreement between province and developer(s)
  •  

     

Research identifies the Bay of Fundy as potentially the best site for tidal power generation in North America, with a world-class resource in close proximity to an existing grid and potential consumers.

Nova Scotia’s regulations demand nearly 20% of the province’s electricity supply come from renewable sources by 2013. In-stream tidal energy has the potential to help meet that target.

Tidal technology also holds potential future opportunities for Nova Scotia suppliers and manufacturers, many of whom already have experience in Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum industry.

The Nova Scotia departments of Energy, Environment and Labour, and Natural Resources have worked together to develop the project, in support of one of the province’s five priorities — protecting the environment.

Read Full Post »

Ocean Energy Council, April 23, 2008

A renewables company based in Cardiff is looking to make commercial waves from a marine energy venture.

Eco2 is the major shareholder and commercial driver of Tidal Energy which has developed an innovative technology to generate electrical power from tidal stream resources.

Its DeltaStream technology takes the concept of wind turbine and ship propeller systems deep beneath the ocean, each generating 1.2 megawatt of energy.

DeltaStream generator features three turbines which sit on the seabed in a triangular frame. When deployed, they will be situated in formation across the seabed to generate green electricity.

Eco2 is spearheading a £6m fundraising exercise, £1m of which it will provide itself. It has already invested £150,000, which has been matched by the Carbon Connections Development Fund, which facilitate knowledge transfer between universities and research laboratories and the business community to speed commercial development of carbon-saving projects,

Chris Williams, project director at Tidal Energy said: “We are hoping to grow this business in Wales, and are looking at a number of suitable locations both in Wales and throughout the rest of the UK for the devices to be installed.

“The skills and resources to develop this business are readily available in South Wales, and we are looking to become a significant employer in this industry with up to 100 full time staff, both in management and operational positions by 2015.”

Following full-scale underwater trials at Cleddau in Pembrokeshire of an early prototype, Tidal Energy is planning to begin manufacturing its device later this year, with a view to full-scale installation in summer 2009.

During the initial stages of the technologies development, Cardiff University contributed to the design of the system’s fluid dynamics and further refinement of the turbine’s blade design is being carried out by Cranfield University in England.

David Williams, chief executive of Eco2, said: “This is an important development as it literally takes renewable power generation out of sight, minimising environmental impact, yet harnessing the largely untapped energy resources of the oceans, far more cost effectively than before. We believe this is the most aesthetic and energy efficient solution yet to meeting EU renewable energy targets.”

The British Wind Energy Association estimates marine power could provide 10-20% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Established in 2002, Eco2 specialises in initiating, developing, financing and operating renewable energy projects and is currently working on wind, biomass and tidal stream projects across the UK.

Eco2 is committed to significantly contributing to Wales reaching the targets set out by the Welsh Assembly Government to generate 4 terawatt (one billion kilowatts) hours of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

Within Wales, Eco2 has 100 megawatt of wind energy generators either built or in the planning system and a further 160 of biomass projects in development.

Read Full Post »

Tidal energy comes of age in NW Europe

Two new tidal energy schemes in Wales and Northern Ireland will showcase a novel technology that is being seen by many as the way forward for this form of renewable energy generation. Sean Ottewell reports

Plans to install the world’s first commercial scale tidal energy system in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough have been published by English tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines (MCT).

The company is targeting the installation of its 1.2MW SeaGen tidal system for the first quarter of 2008. When fully deployed in the Lough and connected to the local grid, the system will generate enough electricity for 1000 homes.

At 1.2MW capacity, SeaGen is the world’s largest tidal current device by a significant margin and is considered a prototype for commercial technology that will be replicated on a large scale over the next few years.

The method of installing the SeaGen device in Strangford Lough has been adapted to enable it to be deployed by a crane barge rather than a larger jack-up vessel. SeaGen will be installed by the crane barge Rambiz, operated by the Belgium company Scaldis, and overseen by MCT’s own in-house engineering team in partnership with SeaRoc, a leading firm of marine engineering consultants.

The exercise, which will take up to 14 days, was scheduled to start towards the end of March, when the Rambiz barge sails with SeaGen loaded on board from Belfast to Strangford Lough.

The additional fabrication engineering work on SeaGen has been carried out by Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrications and the final phase of the engineering assembly and mobilisation activity will be undertaken by Harland & Wolff in Belfast before being collected by the Rambiz barge.

Once installed and during the 12 week commissioning phase, a team of environmental scientists from Royal Haskoning, Queen’s University Belfast and St Andrew’s Sea Mammal Research Unit will be in Strangford Lough to closely monitor SeaGen’s operation and its interaction with marine life.

The UK Government’s Department of Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) has provided valuable support to the SeaGen project. MCT has received grant assistance from BERR for the main part of the project’s development and has received a further £980 000 (E1.3m) investment from the government-funded Technology Strategy Board to cover the additional installation costs and independent performance validation.

MCT md Martin Wright said: “We have carried out extensive engineering and environmental studies to ensure the very best means of installation and operation. As long as the weather is good and there are no last minute operational issues to contend with, we should have SeaGen deployed by the end of March. There is global interest in SeaGen as it will be the first and largest commercial tidal stream device to be installed anywhere in the world, and so we can expect its installation to be a springboard for the further development of the marine energy industry in the UK and the island of Ireland. Looking ahead, MCT intends to manufacture and deploy a series of SeaGen devices in projects off Anglesey and on the Canadian seaboard within the next 2–4 years.”

As EPE went to press, the announcement had been made about the world’s first commercial-scale tidal stream projects, off the coast of Anglesey in North Wales. According to MCT, this exciting and innovative showcase tidal farm scheme would be capable of generating 10.5 MW of clean, green power, drawn entirely from the sea’s major tidal currents.

Npower renewables and MCT will take forward the project through a newly created development company, SeaGen Wales. Subject to successful planning consent and financing, the tidal farm could be commissioned as early as 2011 or 2012.

Wright said: “npower renewables’ extensive experience in developing offshore renewable projects in the UK and Europe will be hugely valuable in taking forward the Anglesey project. Their involvement in SeaGen Wales highlights the very real potential that decentralised tidal energy can make to the UK energy mix. It is also a significant step in commercialising the technology to not only deliver the country’s carbon reduction targets, but also opens up new opportunities for our SeaGen technology to be deployed in other parts of the world.”

Pat Cowling, npower renewables md, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have signed this agreement which positions us, with MCT, at the forefront nationally and globally, of commercial tidal stream energy generation. Tidal stream may be a young technology, but we are convinced by the results of MCT’s work to date, that this is a technology with the potential to make a valuable contribution to UK renewable energy supplies, and the battle against climate change.”

News of the deal came less than a week after the launch of npower renewables’ new parent company, RWE Innogy, which has pooled all of RWE’s renewable energy activities across Europe. The new company has made strong commitments to investing in renewable energy schemes and expanding its portfolio.

Cowling added: “npower renewables’ collaboration with MCT demonstrates RWE Innogy’s commitment to exploring more technologically innovative energy options for the future, as well as continuing to develop our existing and well proven wind and hydro portfolios around the UK.”

Working in collaboration with MCT, npower renewables, the leading UK renewable energy developer and operator, will take the new tidal stream project forward, initially through the consenting stages and with options to extend the partnership further.

It is proposed that the tidal stream project be sited in an area of 25 metre deep open sea known as the Skerries, off the north-west coast of Anglesey, north Wales. The scheme will consist of seven 1.5MW SeaGen turbines, each likely to stand approximately nine metres above sea level. Previous independent scoping studies have identified the Skerries as an ideal location for a tidal stream project, due to its favourable tidal conditions and natural shelter.

The location benefits from good port facilities at Holyhead nearby, proximity to the National Grid facilitating good connection, and good transport links and access, to facilitate construction and maintenance.

Development of the site will start with a full assessment and detailed surveys of the environment and tidal resources, followed by preparation of an outline scheme incorporating the studies’ outcomes.

Studies are about to get started and will last throughout 2008, with a consent application likely to be submitted in mid 2009. Construction and commissioning timescales will be subject to the length of the planning process, but it is anticipated this could take place between 2011 and 2012.

Full consultation will be undertaken with local communities and other relevant stakeholders ahead of any planning application, and all issues raised during the consultation will be fed back into the design process prior to a final consent application.

Read Full Post »

RenewableEnergyDev.com, March 17, 2008

rotech-tidal-turbineAn agreement has been signed to develop a huge tidal power field off the South Korean coast. The joint venture between Lunar Energy of the U.K. and Korean Midland Power Company will develop the tidal power plant in the Wando Hoenggan waterway at a construction cost of £500 million.

The scheme will use power from fast-moving tidal streams to turn a field of 300 60-foot high tidal 1MW turbines sitting on the sea floor. This gives the proposed scheme an operating capacity of 300MW. According to the press release, the power produced from the tidal power plant will generate enough electricity for 200,000 homes and will be completed by the end of 2015. 

The manufacture and installation of the tidal turbines will be carried out by Hyundai Heavy Industries while Aberdeen-based research and development company Rotech Engineering will provide the specialist components.

According to a Lunar Energy spokesman “It is intended that full resource research and feasibility be completed by July 2009 with the installation of a 1MW pilot plant by March 2009.

“Each one megawatt unit has a turbine diameter of 11.5m and a fully ballasted weight in excess of 2500 tons. Rotech tidal turbines can be easily grouped to suit tidal streams in locations worldwide.”

This is the kind of project that could make the U.K.’s proposed £15 billion Severn Barrage project, which has been facing mountains of environmentally based opposition, obsolete. It will also open up an enormous potential for future developments in the oceans worldwide. If proven, we could be witnessing the pioneering of the energy system of the future for coastal cities with potential energy levels in the tens of thousands.

Read Full Post »

npower renewables, February 7, 2008

npower renewables and tidal power developers Marine Current Turbines (MCT) announced a pioneering partnership to capable of deliver 10.5 MW from tidal stream projects off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales.

npower renewables and Marine Current Turbines will take forward the project through a newly created development company, SeaGen Wales. Subject to successful planning consent and financing, the tidal farm could be commissioned as early as 2011 or 2012.

Martin Wright, Managing Director at Marine Current Turbines said “npower renewables’ extensive experience in developing offshore renewable projects in the UK and Europe will be hugely valuable in taking forward the Anglesey project. Their involvement in SeaGen Wales highlights the very real potential that decentralised tidal energy can make to the UK energy mix. It is also a significant step in commercialising the technology to not only deliver the country’s carbon reduction targets, but also opens up new opportunities for our SeaGen technology to be deployed in other parts of the world.”

Managing Director of npower renewables, Paul Cowling, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have signed this agreement which positions us, with MCT, at the forefront nationally and globally, of commercial tidal stream energy generation. Tidal stream may be a young technology, but we are convinced by the results of MCT’s work to date, that this is a technology with the potential to make a valuable contribution to UK renewable energy supplies, and the battle against climate change.”

News of the deal comes less than a week after the launch of npower renewables’ new parent company, RWE Innogy, which has pooled all of RWE’s renewable energy activities across Europe. The new company has made strong commitments to investing in renewable energy schemes and expanding its portfolio.

Paul Cowling added: “npower renewables’ collaboration with MCT demonstrates RWE Innogy’s commitment to exploring more technologically innovative energy options for the future, as well as continuing to develop our existing and well proven wind and hydro portfolios around the UK.”

Working in collaboration with MCT, npower renewables, the leading UK renewable energy developer and operator, will take the new tidal stream project forward, initially through the consenting stages and with options to extend the partnership further.

It is proposed that the tidal stream project be sited in an area of 25 metre deep open sea known as the Skerries, off the north-west coast of Anglesey, north Wales. The scheme will consist of seven (7) 1.5MW SeaGen turbines, each likely to stand approximately 9 metres above sea level. Previous independent scoping studies have identified the Skerries as an ideal location for a tidal stream project, due to its favourable tidal conditions and natural shelter. The location benefits from good port facilities at Holyhead nearby, proximity to the National Grid facilitating good connection, and good transport links and access, to facilitate construction and maintenance.

Development of the site will start with a full assessment and detailed surveys of the environment and tidal resources, followed by preparation of an outline scheme incorporating the studies’ outcomes.

Studies are about to get started and will last throughout 2008, with a consent application likely to be submitted in mid 2009. Construction and commissioning timescales will be subject to the length of the planning process, but it is anticipated this could take place between 2011 and 2012.

Full consultation will be undertaken with local communities and other relevant stakeholders ahead of any planning application, and all issues raised during the consultation will be fed back into the design process prior to a final consent application.

Read Full Post »

JORGE CHAPA, inhabitat.com, December 10, 2007

turbines540One the greatest untapped energy resources in the world is the motion of the ocean. And while floating wind turbines and wave energy generators are being explored throughout the world, there still remains one largely untapped power source, the underwater ocean currents. Well researchers at the Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology have developed what they believe is a technology to allow them to use the Gulf Stream currents that could conceivably cover all of Florida’s energy needs.

The idea is to have underwater turbines placed right in the middle of the Gulf Stream current. The turbines are designed to be about 100 feet in diameter. These will be connected to a buoy that holds the electricity generating equipment. The gulf stream carries billions of gallons per minute, so the impact of these turbines would be minimal if negligible to the current itself.

Now granted, installing all these turbines will take time and significant research, which is why the team is hard at work developing a considerably smaller prototype version that they hope will provide them with enough data to assess whether installing such a system will have an impact in the ocean current, and, just as importantly, all the sealife moving through the area. The prototype will launch in February 2008.

Read Full Post »

DAVID ADAMS, tampabay.com, February 4, 2008

It’s free, has zero emissions and sits off the Florida coast just waiting to be tapped.

A boon to ship captains for centuries, could the Gulf Stream, which runs along Florida’s east coast before curving out across the Atlantic, also be a major source of clean energy for the state?

“This is the closest location on the planet of a major ocean current to a significant urban center of electrical demand,” said Rick Driscoll, director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center of Excellence Ocean Energy Technology in Dania Beach, known as Sea Tech. “Its potential is immeasurable.”

Driscoll envisages a vast field of thousands of underwater propeller turbines tethered to the ocean floor – imagine a wind farm hundreds of feet under the sea – slowly spinning in the current.

Some scientists say the Gulf Stream’s vast energy content could provide up to one-third of the state’s electricity needs, equivalent to six nuclear power stations. Realistically, that potential remains something of a dream right now. Of all the emerging alternative technologies, ocean energy is perhaps the least advanced. But it may be starting to catch on.

“Ocean energy is where wind was 20 years ago,” Driscoll said. “There are a lot of concepts and designs.”
Scientists have been studying the power of the Gulf Stream for centuries, but entrepreneurs have only recently begun to take an interest. Projects are just beginning to pop up around the country, in San Francisco Bay, New York’s Hudson River and now Florida’s east coast, though none are in commercial operation yet.

Sea Tech’s ocean energy research is suddenly attracting intense interest. It got a major boost in 2006 with a $5-million grant from the state. It has also formed an alliance with Florida Power & Light Co. Last week Gov. Charlie Crist proposed a $10-million grant in his new budget, and he made his second visit to Sea Tech on Thursday to show his commitment.

“This is a resource that is boundless. I want to do everything I can to help,” Crist said. “It’s a national security issue. The more we can diversify our energy resources, the more independent it will make us.”

Among those intrigued by the concept is influential Tampa Bay area developer and former Ambassador Mel Sembler. Sembler first heard about the potential of the Gulf Stream several years ago when he was approached by an ocean energy pioneer, Jim Dehlsen, who patented one of the earliest turbine designs in 2001.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” Sembler said. “It’s so consistent and always in the same general area. To me it is Florida’s answer for alternative energy. We desperately need it.”

Sea Tech began work on ocean energy at its Dania Beach campus in 1999 under the leadership of Driscoll, 37, who holds a dual doctorate in mechanical engineering and oceanography.

Driscoll said the center’s first prototype of an ocean current turbine, 10 feet in diameter, will be deployed later this year. Researchers want to see how the turbines behave in the current and what effect the massive blades might have on migratory fish species.

Early evidence suggests fish just swim around the blades, which rotate at speeds of up to 60 revolutions a minute.
“We see ourselves as the facilitator and a database to help provide the expertise that is needed,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll’s team is creating a profile of the Gulf Stream by placing acoustic Doppler equipment on the ocean bottom. It measures movement by firing sound pulses that reflect off particulate matter in the water.

At its closest, the Gulf Stream is 15 miles offshore and stretches 20 to 30 miles into the Atlantic. It varies from 320 to 650 feet deep, maintaining an average speed of about 5 mph. Crucial to any attempt to harness its energy, the current is confined to an identifiable area. “It doesn’t meander very much,” Driscoll said.

While wind farms have attracted opposition from bird lovers, the notion of undersea turbines has so far not caused a stir. That may be because the Gulf Stream is not especially hospitable to marine life, Driscoll said. Its warmer temperature causes evaporation, making the water saltier.

“I have not heard any concerns,” said Mark Ferrulo, director of Environment Florida, one of the state’s leading nature protection advocacy groups. “If anything, there’s a lot of excitement around this emerging technology.”

Because 70 percent of Florida’s population lives within 10 miles of the ocean, advocates say ocean energy is ideal. Its proximity offshore means reduced transmission costs.

Utilities like the concept as it offers the potential of a steady, reliable supply, unlike solar and wind energy, which are unpredictable due to variable weather conditions.

The potential energy “capture area” stretches about 100 to 200 miles from the lower Florida Keys to St. Lucie County, with the best potential around Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. “This is the sweet spot down here,” Driscoll said.

Read Full Post »