The Leading Edge

Issue 1 and Volume 27.

Oregon organization supports wave energy development

The Oregon Wave Energy Trust is administering $4.2 million worth of work to advance the ocean wave energy industry in the state.

The work is being done as part of the Oregon Wave Energy Initiative, established to support research and development related to ocean wave energy. Funding for the trust’s work comes from the Oregon Innovation Council, which supports existing and emerging industries that create new job growth and position the state as a leader in core industrial and research sectors.

The work of the trust includes: serving as a wave energy clearinghouse; advocating for and supporting regulatory streamlining; developing environmental baseline data; identifying and supporting research and development needs; and investigating incentive programs.

– For more information, contact Justin Klure, Oregon Wave Energy Trust Interim Director, (1) 503-475-2999; E-mail: [email protected]

Two wave energy projects proposed in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri and wave energy developer Oceanlinx Ltd. are working to develop two wave energy power plants off the coast.

Oceanlinx will build a 1.5-MW wave energy test plant at Block Island, 8 miles off Rhode Island’s coast, as well as a separate 15- to 20-MW wave energy project off Point Judith, just outside Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.

Australia-based Oceanlinx, formerly Energetech Australia Pty Ltd., said it expects the Block Island site will be co-funded by grants of up to $4 million by Rhode Island state agencies, with the balance to be financed by low-interest bonds.

Rhode Island officials have worked with Oceanlinx since 2003. The officials include the initiative under Carcieri’s plan to use hydropower and related technologies, such as wave energy, to help Rhode Island increase its renewable energy to 20 percent of generation by 2011.

Oceanlinx also proposes to work with the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus to develop a center for study of wave energy technology, to locate its East Coast headquarters in Rhode Island, and possibly to locate a manufacturing plant in the state.

Before the projects can fully proceed, officials said the Rhode Island Legislature and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. must approve bond financing. The projects also would require approvals of the Coastal Resource Management Council, an independent state regulatory agency, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Oceanlinx is developing wave generators tethered to the sea bottom that utilize its Oscillating Water Column technology in which wave action compresses air that turns turbine-generators.

Oceanlinx also is seeking to develop the 10-MW Florence Wave Park project off the coast of Oregon and a 2.7-MW wave park off an island in Hawaii.

Superconductor generator to be used in wave converters

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) and Converteam Ltd. are developing high-temperature superconductor (HTS) linear generators for use in OPT PowerBuoy wave energy converters.

The companies envision directly converting the linear up-and-down motion of waves into electricity using OPT’s PowerBuoy and Converteam’s HTS linear generator.

The companies will develop the technology jointly on an exclusive basis for at least five years. The parties also will investigate commercial opportunities and potential customers for HTS linear generator PowerBuoys.

OPT, based in Pennington, N.J., is a wave energy technology and project developer with PowerBuoy projects in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Spain. Its customers and partners include Iberdrola, Total, and the U.S. Navy. OPT also is working to deploy a 40-kW wave energy unit off the shore of the U.S. Marine base at Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, Hawaii. Eventually, the company is to install, test, and grid-connect multiple PowerBuoy units at the site.

Converteam, formerly Alstom Power Conversion, specializes in the development, design, and supply of electrical motors and generators, power converters, and cryogenic systems. The company, based in the United Kingdom, previously was named to build the world’s first high-temperature superconductor hydropower generator for installation at the 3.9-MW Hirschaid plant in Germany.

Companies propose tidal project for Canada’s Bay of Fundy

Maritime Tidal Energy Corp. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Marine Current Turbines of Bristol, United Kingdom, are preparing a joint proposal to deploy a tidal power system in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy. When complete, the proposal will be submitted to Nova Scotia’s Department of Energy. This department intends for tidal turbines to be operating in the Bay of Fundy during 2009, Marine Current Turbines says.

Marine Current Turbines, developer of SeaGen, a tidal stream energy system, said the companies plan to deploy SeaGen technology in the bay, on Canada’s eastern seaboard.

EPRI offers primer on wave, tidal power

EPRI announces availability of a primer for use in informing the general public about the ocean wave and tidal power basics. EPRI says the primer can be a useful communication tool for utilities when discussing with stakeholders the possibility of adding ocean wave or tidal power to their portfolios of energy supply options.

The six-page Primer: Power from Ocean Waves and Tides discusses:

    – How wave and tidal power is calculated;
    – Various measurement terms, including kilowatts, megawatts, gigawatts, terawatts, and watt-hours;
    – The amount of electricity used by a typical U.S. home;
    – Wave and tidal potential in the U.S.; and
    – The technology used for wave and tidal generation.
    –  To download the primer for free, visit the EPRI website: www.epri.com and search for “ocean primer.”

DOE funds research for ocean energy technology

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program is providing about $1 million for laboratory-based technical support for research, testing, or product development partnerships related to wind and ocean energy technologies.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement partnerships are expected to leverage industry experience and needs with the National Renewable Energy and Sandia National laboratories’ technology research and development expertise.

The partnerships will work to solve industry questions about utility-scale wind technologies. Subject to fiscal year 2008 congressional appropriations for an Ocean Energy Program, the partnerships also will work on ocean energy technologies, DOE said.

The Energy Department also is offering grants for ocean energy technology from the department’s Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

Technologies to be supported include wave energy converters, hydrokinetic turbines, and thermal energy conversion systems.


The Leading Edge

Issue 2 and Volume 28.

City installing hydrokinetic units at 4.4-MW Mississippi project

The city of Hastings, Minn., is proceeding with adding two 35-kW hydrokinetic units at the 4.4-MW Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 2 project. This dam on the Mississippi River is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The units are based on the patented technology of Hydro Green Energy LLC, of Houston, Texas, a partner in the hydrokinetic project. Hydro Green Energy said one turbine was installed in December 2008, with the second to be installed in April 2009. The units are suspended from a barge in the tailrace of the dam. They are expected to generate 364 megawatt-hours annually.

In December 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) amended the operating license for the Lock and Dam No. 2 project, approving the first installation of a hydrokinetic power device at an existing U.S. hydroelectric project.

At the 4.4-MW Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 2 project, one 35-kW hydrokinetic unit is operating, supplied by Hydro Green Energy LLC. A second unit is to be installed in April 2009. The unit is suspended from a barge in the tailrace of the dam. (Photo courtesy Mark Stover, Hydro Green Energy)
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FERC staff completed an environmental assessment (EA) of the proposal in September 2008. The commission’s 34-page order adopts some recommendations from the EA, including: more water quality monitoring, a broader approach to evaluating fish entrainment and survival, development of a zebra mussel control plan, and development and implementation of a bird monitoring plan.

The order also requires the city of Hastings to modify turbine operations or remove the turbines or barge if monitoring results show adverse effects on water quality, fish, or diving birds.

Verdant to file application with FERC for RITE project

Verdant Power Inc. is moving forward with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing of its 1.05-MW Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project. In November 2008, the company filed a notice of intent (NOI) to file an application for an original license for the hydrokinetic pilot project.

The proposed project, in the east channel of the East River in New York City, would consist of 30 35-kW Kinetic Hydropower System turbine-generator units; underwater cable to carry electricity produced to a control room on shore; and appurtenant facilities for navigation and operation. The project is expected to generate 1,680 to 2,500 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

The filing included:

    – The NOI and a draft license application with monitoring plans;
    – A request for waivers of the integrated licensing process regulations necessary for expedited processing of a hydrokinetic pilot project license application, including extending the period to file comments on the draft license application and monitoring plans;
    – A proposed process plan and schedule; and
    – A request to be designated as the non-federal representative for section 7 of the Endangered Species Act consultation and for section 106 consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act.

In December 2008, FERC solicited comments on the pre-filing materials and approved Verdant Power’s request to be designated the non-federal representative for both section 7 and section 106. FERC did not act on the company’s request to use the pilot project licensing procedures.

OPT operates wave units in Hawaii, New Jersey

Wave energy developer Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) is operating a wave power unit near Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii. OPT launched the unit in November 2008 under the company’s ongoing program with the U.S. Navy for installation of its PowerBuoy system off the U.S. Marine base at Kaneohe Bay.

The unit is located a mile off the coast of Oahu, in 100 feet of water. Resembling an ocean buoy, it is based on OPT’s proprietary design. The unit generates power by moving up and down on a central spar as waves pass by. The unit will be connected to the Oahu power grid.

OPT said the Navy added $300,000 funding to provide for extended operation of the PowerBuoy system.

In October 2008, OPT commissioned a 40-kW PowerBuoy system in the Atlantic Ocean 75 miles off the coast of New Jersey, also under contract from the Navy.

A PowerBuoy unit, manufactured by Ocean Power Technologies, is operating off the U.S. Marine base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. A second PowerBuoy unit is operating in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey.
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At this location, the Navy is studying the PowerBuoy for its Deep Water Active Detection System program. The Navy plans to test the PowerBuoy as a power source for the program, which uses data gathering and communications systems, and unattended sensor networks over wide areas of ocean. In November 2008, the Navy awarded a $3 million contract to OPT to continue its participation in the program. The new contract provides for ocean testing of an advanced version of the autonomous PowerBuoy for the Navy’s operational requirements, OPT said.

OPT receives funds to advance Oregon wave project

OPT also recently received nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support the company’s 2.1-MW wave power project in Reedsport, Ore.

OPT said it would use the money to help fund fabrication, assembly, and factory testing of the first PowerBuoy system to be installed at the Reedsport site. Much of the 150-kW PB150 PowerBuoy system will be manufactured and assembled in Oregon.

Money for the award was included as a congressional earmark by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Installation of the first PB150 PowerBuoy is the first phase of an OPT project to install ten such systems generating a total of 1.5 MW at a site about 2.5 miles off the coast of Oregon. The first PowerBuoy is expected to be ready for deployment in the second half of 2009, the company said. After deployment, OPT plans to manufacture and install the additional nine systems. The company expects the systems will begin operating in 2010, following receipt of federal regulatory approvals.

OPT, headquartered in Pennington, N.J., originally received a preliminary permit to study a 50-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park. It later filed notice with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it intends to apply for a hydropower license to build and operate a 2.1-MW version of the project.

Department of Energy forming ocean energy R&D partnerships

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is establishing research, testing, and product development partnerships with developers of two ocean energy technologies, Verdant Power and Resolute Marine Power.

DOE’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program selected the companies based on proposals for Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partnerships. CRADA partnerships are expected to leverage industry experience and needs with the technology research and development expertise of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories.

Verdant Power

NREL and Sandia are to work with Verdant, of New York, through one-year agreements, to develop a new composite-based rotor design. Under the CRADA agreements, NREL will contribute $300,000 of resources and Sandia will contribute $150,000 of resources. Verdant is to contribute a similar share of in-kind resources.

The partners expect to produce refined rotor designs for handling high current flows, and rotors with larger diameters. The work will be used to help develop tools and methodologies, including hydrodynamic modeling and load calculation methods, that can be applied to Verdant’s rotor design, DOE said.

Resolute Marine Power

NREL is working with Resolute Marine, of Watertown, Mass., to establish a CRADA partnership, beginning in the first quarter of 2009. DOE said the agreement is expected to enable the partners to develop methods for evaluating wave energy concepts and classify their effectiveness in terms of cost and energy.

DOE said it would contribute $50,000 to the partnership. Resolute Marine is expected to make a similar contribution, the government said.

FERC claims jurisdiction over ocean energy projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) continues to assert that it has jurisdiction over hydroelectric projects on the offshore Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), despite a competing claim by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).

In October 2008, FERC addressed the jurisdictional question in a rehearing order involving two preliminary permits granted to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to study developing wave energy projects on the OCS off the California coast. The projects are 40-MW PG&E Humboldt WaveConnect and 40-MW Mendocino WaveConnect. FERC issued both permits in March 2008.

The MMS asserted FERC only has jurisdiction to issue preliminary permits and licenses for projects within state waters, typically extending 3 nautical miles offshore. Projects beyond state waters are considered to be on the OCS. FERC said the Federal Power Act (FPA) gives it authority to issue preliminary permits and licenses for projects on the OCS.

First, FERC said, the law expressly grants FERC jurisdiction to license in “navigable waters” without limitation, as is the case in “streams or other bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction.” That, FERC said, means the commission has jurisdiction over hydro projects such as those being studied under the two preliminary permits held by PG&E.

The second authority, it said, stems from the projects being on “reservations” of the U.S. FERC concluded the OCS is land owned by the U.S., qualifying it as a “reservation” under FPA. It noted the U.S. Supreme Court has held the U.S. owns the submerged lands off its shores.

FERC also disputed an Interior Department assertion the Energy Policy Act of 2005 intended for Interior to be the lead federal regulatory authority over wave and ocean current energy projects on the OCS. In its order, FERC said the Energy Policy Act does not limit the scope of FERC’s authority over hydroelectric power or withdraw FERC jurisdiction over projects on the OCS.

The MMS issued proposed rules in July 2008 in which it maintained MMS is the lead federal agency for regulating ocean and tidal energy projects on the OCS. In September 2008, FERC staff urged MMS to back away from plans to regulate ocean energy projects.

Warrior Girl Corp. to buy hydrokinetic turbine developer

Warrior Girl Corp. of Ewing, N.J., is buying American Hydro Energy Co., developer of a slow-moving hydrokinetic turbine designed to generate electricity from river currents.

Warrior Girl said it is involved in development and deployment of technologies in hydropower. Under terms of a letter of intent signed in November 2008, Warrior Girl will acquire all stock in American Hydro Energy, of Little Falls, Idaho, in return for restricted shares of common stock in Warrior Girl. The purchase is subject to due diligence by both parties.

American Hydro Energy said it has developed proprietary techniques to increase the natural river flow velocity passing through a turbine, roughly based on the “venturi effect,” common in rocketry and jet engine applications. One venturi system forces water into the turbine while a second venturi system creates a low-pressure region that pulls water through the turbine, increasing water speed.

American Hydro Energy’s business plan states it is working on a project to develop a $10 million, 10-MW river flow hydropower system that will be placed “at a strategic location” in southern Idaho, in the Snake River.


The California Public Utilities Commission rejected Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s (PG&E) proposal to purchase electricity from the 2-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy project. PG&E signed a power purchase agreement with developer Finavera Renewables Inc. in December 2007. The commission said it found Humboldt is not viable. It also found the contract price to be unreasonable. … Developers expect to benefit from Congress’ extension of production tax credits (PTC) for renewable energy projects and the expansion of the PTC law to include ocean energy and in-stream hydrokinetic projects. Production tax credits will be allowed for marine renewable energy facilities of at least 150 kW that are placed in service between Oct. 3, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011. The tax credit rate for marine renewables is 1 cent per kilowatt-hour for ten years.