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Marine firm set for US tidal power debut

US firm begins installing first grid-connected commercial tidal power system

The TidGen Power System will be deployed off the Maine coast in the US in March
The TidGen Power System will be deployed off the Maine coast in the US in March

A US firm has started installing its first commercial tidal power system. Marine technology firm Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has announced that it will begin the installation of its first grid-connected, commercial TidGen Power System, at a 60-acre site in Cobscook Bay near Seward Neck, Lubec.

The TidGen Power System is designed to generate electricity at water depths of 50 to 100 feet at shallow tidal and deep river sites. The system generates up to 150kW in a 6-knot water current.

ORPC plans to begin on-water deployment of its Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project in early March, following issuance of a license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Chris Sauer, ORPC’s president and CEO, said: “This is a huge milestone for ORPC and the entire tidal energy industry. It also means that ORPC will continue creating local jobs and increase spending in the regional economy. We have received invaluable guidance from the local fishing industry, pilots, and many other marine users, and we thank the citizens of Eastport and Lubec for embracing tidal energy development and helping ORPC succeed.”

The company plans to install the project over two years. Beginning next month, a single device TidGen Power System will be installed at the Cobscook Bay project site. A buried, underwater power and data cable will connect the TidGen device through the inter-tidal zone with an on-shore station that will be constructed nearby. Power firm Bangor Hydro Electric will also be upgrading the adjacent service line to facilitate electricity distribution to Maine customers.

Once the single-device TidGen Power System is in operation in June, ORPC will conduct performance testing of the system and will collect and analyse data on its design, performance and interaction with the marine environment. Environmental monitoring and fish studies will continue in partnership with the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences.

In mid-2013, ORPC plans to install four additional TidGen devices, creating a five-device power system with a rated capacity of 300kW, enough to power approximately 75 to 100 homes.