The Leading Edge

Florida center designated national marine energy center

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has designated the Center for Ocean Energy Technology at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) a national center for ocean energy research and development, naming it the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC).

DOE will provide funding to SNMREC to perform research and development on ocean current and thermal energy technology, with a view to placing systems in the Florida Straits and Gulf Stream, close to the center’s location.

SNMREC will collaborate with industry partners to investigate, refine, fabricate, and test next-generation waterpower technologies to harness the ocean’s energy potential. SNMREC is the third national ocean energy research center – the others are located in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Researchers at the center have deployed ocean current observation systems, established research on environmental baselines to determine the level of potential effects, and initiated the fabrication of support structures for ocean energy devices, according to FAU’s announcement. The center will ultimately perform full-scale field-testing of prototype devices.

SNMREC also will develop curricula to educate a workforce for this industry.

WAPA submits wind-hydro feasibility study to Congress

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) has submitted its Final Wind and Hydropower Feasibility Study to Congress.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Secretaries of the Interior, Energy, and Army to jointly conduct a study assessing the cost and feasibility of a demonstration project that uses wind energy generated by Indian tribes and hydro generated by the Army Corps of Engineers to supply supplemental power to WAPA, says Michael Radecki, energy services specialist with WAPA.

The resulting report, submitted to the Senate and House of Representatives in July 2010, supports four recommendations:

  • A demonstration project should be no more than 50 MW in capacity;
  • Any costs of the demonstration project beyond what WAPA would normally have paid for like energy should not be born by WAPA’s ratepayers;
  • Additional study is necessary to refine the economic saturation point for wind energy to provide supplemental power for WAPA; and
  • A quantitative assessment should be conducted of the costs of increased wind integration on Corps and Bureau of Reclamation facilities.
Stanley Consultants directed preparation of the report, with contributions from Ventyx Energy, 3TIER, and EnerNex Corp.

The report is available on the Internet: windhydro/default.htm.

Oregon utility-scale wave energy hydro station closer to fruition

Oregon-based Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) it is getting closer to deploying its technology in the U.S.

OPT signed a settlement agreement in August 2010 with 11 federal and state agencies and three non-governmental stakeholders for its utility-scale wave power project at Reedsport, Ore. The agreement is the first step toward obtaining a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to deploy the technology. The agreement is for the phased development of a ten-unit, 1.5-MW wave energy station.

Manufacturing of the first 150-kW unit, the PB150 PowerBuoy, is under way at Oregon Iron Works. The wave farm will be connected to the grid after the FERC license is received.

ORPC generates power in Maine

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), a Maine-based marine firm, announced that its Beta Power System has generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents at its Cobscook Bay site in Eastport, Maine.

The system’s core component, the Turbine Generator Unit (TGU), is deployed below ORPC’s research and testing vessel and has a maximum capacity of 60 kW. The TGU works on the same principle as a wind turbine, with rotating foils that power a central permanent magnet generator.

Performance test results show that the TGU’s electrical output meets or exceeds expectations for the full range of current velocities encountered, ORPC said. ORPC will use data obtained from the Beta Power System to fine tune the design of its 250-kW TidGen Power System, planned for installation in Eastport in late 2011. The system will be connected to the grid through the Bangor Hydro Electric Co. system, ORPC said.

For more ocean/tidal/stream news, see the Hydro Project Activity tab at

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