US Marine Power Holds Promise, with 80 Projects Planned

October 17, 2012 By Tamar Wilner

The US power industry and academic institutions are working together more than ever before to develop technologies for marine power generation, according to a report by GlobalData.

The report, “Marine Power – Installed Capacity, Levelized Cost of Energy, Profiles of Technology Developers and Key Country Analysis to 2030,” said more than 80 marine energy projects – either wave or tidal – are in various stages of development. There are no commercially active tidal power plants in the US. However, the US does have a 1 MW capacity wave power plant that is commercially active.

About 50 tidal projects are in various stages of development through the US, with many based in Alaska and California, according to the report.

The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that when calculated at a depth of 60 meters, the US coast has the capability to generate 2,610 terawatt-hours of energy on average each year. Alaska and the western coast contribute more than 80 percent of this energy generation potential.

Oregon is the leading generator of hydroelectric power in the US with close to 300 MW of planned projects lined up for development by Finavera Renewables, Oceanlink Limited and Ocean Power Technologies.

California, which boasts more than 1,200 km (746 miles) of coastline, has a combined annual average deep water power flux of more than 37,000 MW, of which at least 20 percent can be converted into electricity. The potential of wave energy is sufficient to meet at least 20 percent of in-state electricity consumption, according to the report.

There are three 100 MW plants planned in both Oregon and California, along with other smaller projects, the report said.

There have been several tidal and marine power acquisitions and contracts in the past year.

For example, Alstom signed an agreement in September with Rolls-Royce to buy tidal stream turbine manufacturer Tidal Generation. TGL designs and makes turbines, which capture and convert the energy of tidal streams to generate electrical power. The acquisition will complement Alstom’s ongoing research and development on ocean energies.

In May, the Maine Public Utilities Commission directed three utilities to buy 4 MW of tidal electricity from Ocean Renewable Power Company, in the first long-term power purchase agreements for tidal energy in the United States.

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