LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Friday, March 04, 2005

FERC Seeks Comment on Temporary License To Allow for Evaluation of Tidal Project

If like me, you believe that pervasive regulation is stifling emergence of wave and tidal projects in the United States, then here's your chance to do something about it. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , the agency that so kindly has asserted jurisdiction over the licensing of offshore wave and tidal projects is soliciting comment on a proposal by Verdant Power that would allow it to operate and transmit power from its project on an experimental basis for 18 months without a license. In my view, this type of flexibility would enable wave and tidal developers to deploy prototypes, observe how they function in "real-world" conditions and if necessary, modify them to reduce any adverse impacts.

Now, I realize that environmental review is important and that wave and tidal projects, though renewable, small and in theory benign, may nonetheless have some impacts. But the impacts are far less than the types of enormous plants that are permitted all the time and far more expeditiously. In the early stages of the wave energy industry, developers should be able to spend their limited resources on finessing project technology and not complying with permit procedures intended for behemoths. To the extent that the Verdant proposal would allow some relief from onerous requirements, I'm all for it - as should any supporter of wave energy should be as well.

You can view FERC's Notice Soliciting Comments on the proposal here in the online Federal Register. Deadline for comments is March 13, 30 days after the February 11, 2005 publication date.

Cape Wind Update

With the period for comments on the Corps' Draft Environmental Impact Statement now closed, two federal agencies, EPA and DOI have weighed in on the DEIS and found it lacking. This article from Cape Cod Online, Interior: Wind study flawed (3/4/05), reports on DOI's 58 pages of comments which recommend that the Corps formulate a supplemental report - which could take months or years to produce depending upon the studies to be performed.

And in this article,
EPA calls U.S. Army Corps review of wind farm project inadaquate
, AP (2/26/05) discusses EPA's comments, including that the Corps' review lacked information about environmental conditions, impacts of the proposed project, and whether alternatives — such as a scaled-down version of the wind farm — could avoid or minimize those imacts, he wrote.

Tidal Power in Canada

Canada will soon have its first tidal power generator as reported in
Project tests Race Rocks' tidal power
, Rick Stiebel, Goldstream News Gazette, (3/2/05). The article describes that:
Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Encana Corporation and Clean Current Power Systems announced an innovative partnership Friday to build a free-stream tidal power generator, the first of its kind in Canada, at the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
The project, made possible by a $3 million investment from Encana's Environmental Innovation Fund, involves replacing two diesel-powered generators at Race Rocks that supply power for Pearson's marine education centre with a tidal turbine generator, built by Clean Current Wind Systems.
The remaining funding for the $4 million project is expected to come from private investors and the federal government.
The generator is scheduled to begin producing power by 2006.
The turbine generator has only one moving part, the rotor assembly that contains permanent magnets. The turbine, anchored to the ocean floor in about 15 metres of water, operates like an underwater windmill with cables that carry away the energy it produces.

What stood out to me most about this project is that the generator is scheduled to come online within a year. Try that trick in the United States where onerous permitting requirements create obstacles to bringing even prototype or research projects online. It's one thing to lose the quest to be first or second to site a tidal project because of inferior technology. It's quite another when bureaucracy stands in the way.

More Funding for Scotland's Marine Energy Resources

In Tide Turning For Marine Energy (3/1/05), there's more funding on the way for the tidal test centre at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The EMEC currently offers unique testing facilities to support the development of wave energy.
The article quotes Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace as stating that
On and off shore wind energy, biomass, hydrogen and solar will have crucial roles to play, and wave and tidal energy has the potential to make a significant contribution.

"For example, the recent marine energy report by the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland indicated that by 2020, wave and tidal technology could provide 10 per cent of the electricity generated in Scotland as well as support 7,000 jobs.

"There is a huge natural resource off the Scottish coastline and it is important we utilise it. Doing so will reduce the Carbon Dioxide emissions which are harming our environment, and create more jobs, benefiting Scotland as a whole. If the tidal centre is built, as I am confident that it will be, then it is clearly a significant step towards achieving these goals. It will help us maintain our position at the forefront of global research into marine energy. "

It is unfortunate that in the U.S., we do not recognize the added economic benefits of promoting a robust renewable energy industry that includes diverse resources such as ocean. Sure, renewables offer environmental and security benefits, but also benefits for the economy as well.

A New Tidal Technology

According to this article,
(2/25/05), a British company is pursuing a "revolutionary breaktrhough in tidal technology." As the article describes:
The offshore Ocean Hydro Electricity Generator (OHEG) power plant allows electricity to be generated from the sea, around the clock.
Based on the use of tidal and chamber turbines, combined with energy accumulators, energy is created through the natural tidal stream and the rise and fall of the tide - a more reliable energy source than wind or solar technologies[...]

The offshore OHEG structure would consist of three rows of chambers and two outer walls, creating four channels, with the tidal stream then diverted through these channels.
Within the chambers would be groups of energy accumulators which create power from the rise and fall of the tide. Between the rows of chambers and the outer walls are banks of tidal turbines, with four banks per channel. The OHEG plant holds back over 6 million tonnes of water every six and a half hours and in doing so creates power through the chamber turbines.
The plant also makes a suitable foundation for offshore wind turbines, although they are not essential for its operation, and the OHEG system is six times more powerful than the wind farm it supports.

More information about the unique OHEG renewable/natural energy system can be obtained from: Pat Cooke, Managing Director, Hi-Spec Research & Developments Ltd, Windmill Industrial Estate, Windmill, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1HB. Tel: +44-(0)1726-833337, Fax: +44-(0)1726-833811, Email: pat@able-engineering.co.uk . Issued by Bird & Moore Ltd: Contact: Neil Moore, Tel: +44-(0)1889-565111, E-Mail: birdandmoore@btinternet.com on behalf of Hi-Spec Research & Developments Ltd.