The Leading Edge

Massachusetts town files draft pilot license for tidal project

The town of Edgartown, Mass., has filed a draft pilot license application for the 5-MW Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy project to help power the town, located on Martha’s Vineyard Island.

Edgartown holds a preliminary permit to study the project, in Muskeget Channel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, in Edgartown’s municipal waters. The application was submitted Jan. 31, 2011, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), utilizing FERC guidelines for developing pilot hydrokinetic projects.

Consultant Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. filed the application on behalf of the town, noting the project is being developed in cooperation with the Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC) of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

The project is to include 14 tidal turbines located 25 feet below the surface of the water. Thirteen of the units are to be for commercial operation totaling 5 MW, while the 14th is to serve as a stand for MREC to test tidal energy technologies.

The application proposes using a turbine design by Ocean Renewable Power. However, the application said the technology and developer would be selected through a public bidding process.

Turbine units are to be linked by a submarine cable to a substation to be built on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown proposes phased development of the project over the eight-year term of a pilot license.

Hydrovolts gets new funding, partners for development

Hydrovolts Inc., producer of hydrokinetic turbines, has successfully closed its first investment funding round and established strategic partnerships with three other Washington companies to develop hydrokinetic turbines.

Hydrovolts closed its over-subscribed Series A funding round in December 2010. Including other investments and cash prizes, the company has raised more than $1 million since winning the National Sustainability Award at the Clean Tech Open in 2009. Two of the company’s investors are engineering corporations that will be strategic partners.

Washington State is the home of the four companies in the new clean energy partnership. Hydrovolts will partner with MERA Technologies Inc. (MTI), based in Seattle, to develop a new submersible generator that enables the efficient harvesting of water energy at low revolutions per minute (rpm) without the need for gear boxes and with reliable operation. MTI designs and produces permanent magnet generators in China for customers around the world. The generators use neodymium “super magnets.” MTI supplies marine power generators to the boating industry and has recently become a supplier of generators to the Chinese government.

A Seattle consulting firm, Sierra Asia Inc., will advise Hydrovolts on its China market development. Located within the Seattle Chamber of Commerce offices, Sierra Asia’s principals are long-time U.S. trade negotiators familiar with the extensive state and national programs that support U.S. companies with great export potential.

Hydrovolts will also partner with Ershigs Corp., based in Bellingham, Wash. Ershigs manufactures fiberglass pipe and large components for industrial applications and is designing and building fiberglass composite components for wind and wave energy companies. Ershigs has made an investment in Hydrovolts and will provide turbine engineering and prototype assistance and parts such as rotor blades and floatation tanks for the production models.

Developer drops 18 U.S. permits, eyes different technology

Hydrokinetic project developer McGinnis Inc. has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to surrender preliminary permits for 18 projects in favor of studying an alternative low-flow technology.

McGinnis obtained three-year preliminary permits in 2009 and 2010 to study development of 18 350-kW projects on the Ohio, Kanawha, and Mississippi rivers, totaling 6.3 MW. Utilizing sites at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locks and dams, the Ohio-based developer proposed installing barge-mounted turbine-generators and armored submarine cables to transmit power ashore.

“McGinnis has evaluated flow velocities, investigated several turbine concepts for use in barge-mounted applications, designed and fabricated one test unit, and completed preliminary in-water trials for one vertical-axis design,” McGinnis said. “The results indicate that existing flow conditions would not support sufficient power generation to warrant further development of barge-mounted turbine arrays.”

The developer said it decided to investigate a “buoyancy-block” turbine design that it said promises to be highly efficient under low-velocity conditions. “This change in direction will require additional studies which cannot be completed within the regulatory timelines associated with the existing permits, as well as additional funding,” it said, adding it hoped to reapply for new permits in the future.

Permits being surrendered are:

– Ohio River, West Virginia: Belleville, Hannibal, New Cumberland, Pike Island, Racine, Robert C. Byrd, and Willow Island;

– Ohio River, Ohio: Greenup and Meldahl;

– Ohio River, Kentucky: Cannelton, John T. Myers, Markland, McAlpine, Newburgh, and Smithland;

– Kanawha River, West Virginia: Marmet and Winfield; and

– Mississippi River, Illinois: Melvin Price.

OPT PB150 wave power device achieves Lloyd’s certification

Marine hydro developer Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) has achieved an independent certification for its utility scale PowerBuoy, the PB150, by the internationally respected Lloyd’s Register, OPT announced.

The certificate from Lloyd’s Register confirms that the PB150 (150-kW) design complies with the requirements of Lloyd’s 1999 Rules and Regulations for the Classification of Floating Offshore Installations at a Fixed Location. This provides independent, third-party assurance on the design of the PB150 PowerBuoy for its intended use, as analyzed against international standards.

Ross Wigg, renewables leader at Lloyd’s Register, said: “Ocean Power Technologies is the first wave energy device developer that has approached Lloyd’s Register for its assurance services. Our certification of the PowerBuoy is a significant step for Ocean Power Technologies’ product offering. It demonstrates their commitment to providing safe and efficient products to generate low-cost, clean energy.”

Achievement of this certification for the PB150 PowerBuoy follows from the company’s successful installation in December 2009 of its PB40 PowerBuoy in Oahu, Hawaii, and its connection to the grid. That project is part of OPT’s ongoing program with the U.S. Navy to develop and test the PowerBuoy technology and has contributed to the roll-out of OPT’s next generation PB150 system for the electrical utility markets.

ASCE committee studies marine renewable energy

The Marine Renewable Energy Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute studies a variety of technical areas associated with marine renewable energy structures.

The purpose of the committee is: to study and disseminate information on the planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, pollution control, and technical functioning of marine renewable energy facilities above and below the water, including anchoring of marine structures to the seabed; mooring systems for floating devices; transmission cable burial and protection; studying and reporting on federal, state, and regional efforts to plan and regulate the construction and maintenance activities of marine renewable energy facilities; requirements for shore-based facilities related to marine renewable energy; and port and harbor infrastructure to support the construction and maintenance of marine renewable structures and technology.

The committee has eight subcommittees on: structures, risk and reliability, environmental loading, geotechnical, government issues, wave energy converters, ocean thermal energy converters, and in-stream hydrokinetic.

The committee is producing documents that address each of the above technical areas associated with marine renewable energy structures at they pertain to civil engineers. The three documents currently being prepared cover geotechnical, structural, and mooring guidelines for marine renewable energy structures.

The committee has about 40 members from industry, government, and academia. William Stewart is chair of the committee.

Developer to study 53 hydrokinetic projects on irrigation systems

Pacific Rim Energy Inc. has filed applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for preliminary permits to study development of hydrokinetic energy projects totaling a maximum of 507.6 MW on irrigation systems in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.

Depending on the site, Pacific Rim of Tacoma, Wash., proposes installing various numbers of its PRE Kinetic Energy Paddlewheel power units, each having a minimum capacity of 150 kW. Units would span the width of a canal at various locations in the canal system.

In most cases, electric interconnection would be made to a nearby electrical system, with power to be bought by a local utility.

While most of the projects would be a maximum of only 1.2 MW, the largest project, on Grand Coulee Project Hydroelectric Authority canals in Grant County, Wash., could total a maximum of 274.95 MW, according to Pacific Rim’s application.

If approved by FERC, a preliminary permit reserves the site for 36 months while the permit holder investigates project feasibility and prepares a license application. It does not allow construction or installation of generating units.

Pacific Rim’s applications are named for the districts upon whose canals the projects would be built. Projects in Washington total 1,369.15 to 1,914.48 MW and are in Chelan, Grant, Kittitas, Okanogan, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties. The single project proposed for Idaho has a capacity of 7.95 to 10.95 MW and is in Owyhee County. The Oregon projects total 68.4 to 125.55 MW and are in Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Umatilla, and Wasco counties. Projects in California total 5.25 to 14.7 MW and are in El Dorado, Imperial, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, and Tulare counties.

Website provides information on marine hydrokinetics

The MHK KnowledgeBase, a website dedicated to marine hydrokinetic technologies, is available at

This website is designed to accelerate the commercial deployment of marine and hydrokinetic energy resources by serving as an information clearinghouse and functioning as an interactive tool for effective stakeholder education, communication, and collaboration.

The website features information on project development, including a list of wave and tidal projects in active development in California, Oregon, and Washington. This list includes the dates for major filing activities with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, such as the preliminary permit order, notice of intent and pre-application document, and draft license application. The page also includes links to maps of issued and pending preliminary permits; wave, tidal, and instream and ocean current developers; test centers; and industry organizations.

The siting section of the website features tools and resources, including:

– Summary of the state and federal regulatory processes for hydrokinetic development, developed by Pacific Energy Ventures;

– West Coast Wave Energy Framework by Pacific Energy Ventures;

– Navigational impacts and mitigation measures report from PCCI; and

– Report on deployment effects by RE Vision Consulting.

The coastal and marine spatial planning section provides resource documents, links, and news/events related to this aspect of ocean renewable energy.

The website is managed by Pacific Energy Ventures, which specializes in strategic marketing, project management, government affairs, and policy in the renewable energy sector.

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