Ocean Renewable seeks extra time for Maine tidal energy project

Ocean Renewable Power Co. (ORPC) on June 5 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a two-year extension for the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project’s pilot project license.

“This request results from the status of the Project and experimental nature of hydrokinetic technology development,” the company noted. “ORPC, through consultations with the commission and the project’s Adaptive Management Team, has concluded that filing for a new license, including a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Pre-Application Document (PAD), would not be appropriate at this time.”

ORPC said its pursuit of a pilot project license extension versus a new license for this Maine project is due to the following factors:

  • ORPC is currently in a technology optimization phase, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, that was not anticipated.
  • Precedence exists for longer-term pilot project licenses for tidal energy projects (10 years).
  • The extension would provide an opportunity to test alternative turbine designs.
  • The tidal energy resource at the project site in Cobscook Bay is not currently suited for commercial development.

ORPC noted that in October 2014 it presented its rationale for a pilot project license extension versus filing for a new license to the commission in Washington, DC. The commission was represented by the Division of Hydropower Licensing and the Office of the General Counsel. On Feb. 9 of this year, ORPC submitted a response to the commission in regard to its Notice of License expiration on Aug. 4, 2014. The intent of the response was to formally notify the commission that ORPC would not be submitting a NOI or PAD for a new license at that time and would be requesting a license amendment to extend the pilot license by two years (10 year total).

In addition, ORPC submitted a four month status report to the commission on June 3 in accordance with the temporary variance for environmental monitoring for the project. The status report provides an update on TidGen technology optimization, project funding and advancements in environmental monitoring data analysis and results. If this license amendment is granted, ORPC anticipates filing a notice to the commission of its intent to apply for a new license by Jan. 16, 2017.

In a Jan. 30 filing at the commission, the company noted: “ORPC has focused our technical strategy on leveraging lessons learned from multiple projects towards cross-platform designs and advanced design tools. Turbine, fairing structure and control system design improvements will improve performance of the power systems. To this end, the design of the tensioned mooring system deployed this past summer (2014) matured the OCGen prototype system as expected. These advances, combined with the integration of new generator and driveline technologies scalable to 600kW rated power in high flow environments, will provide the basis for the optimized power system to be installed in Cobscook Bay. We anticipate improving the TidGen demonstrated efficiency to an onboard power output efficiency approaching 45%.”

The project contact is: Nathan Johnson, 207-221-6254, njohnson@orpc.co.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.