Hydropower

Largest U.S. Ocean Device Generating Electricity

The ocean-current technology developer Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has been working on a pilot version of its cross-flow turbine since 2004. Over the last six years, the company has learned a number of important lessons about the difficulties of deploying energy technologies in the marine environment.

ORPC’s 30-kw unit, which was installed in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Maine, was battered by bad weather and did not function properly due to wrongly-sized parts.

But the company announced today that the test of its 60-kW pre-commercial device, known as the TGU, was running smoothy and had delivered compatible electricity to the Maine grid at a consistent output. No word on how much electricity was actually generated. The machine was installed in Cobsook Bay in Eastport Maine last fall.

ORPC says it is ready to move onto deploying its TidGen device, a 250-kW cross-flow unit that will be put in the water off the coast of Eastport in 2011. The company is working with the University of Maine on a three-year testing partnership to monitor the progress of the units.

ORPC, which has offices in Maine and Alaska, has received a number of grants and has been working with a strategic partner to fund the latest round of testing. However, as the company scales up to the 250-kW unit, it will surely need a larger round of funding to meet its accelerating cash-burn rate.

Check out the video of an overview of ORPC’s latest round of testing.