ORPC Maine reports progress with 7.5-MW tidal energy project

ORPC Maine LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ocean Renewable Power Co. LLC, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an update filed Jan. 4 that it is making progress on a cutting-edge tidal energy project in Maine, including new funding secured through the U.S. Department of Energy.

ORPC in July 2016 got from FERC a preliminary permit for the Western Passage Tidal Energy Project. The purpose of the project is to evaluate the potential for a new source of clean, renewable energy generation using tidal energy resources. The project is located in a marine waterway in the Western Passage, a passage in the northern Atlantic Ocean, northeast of the City of Eastport, Maine, and bounded by the U.S. and Canada.

he proposed project will consist of: 15 double TidGen TGU hydrokinetic tidal devices, each consisting of a 500-kW turbine-generator unit for a combined installed capacity of 7,500 kW; an anchoring support structure; a mooring system; a 3,900 to 4,200-foot-long bundled underwater data line and 4.16- to 12.7-kV transmission line connecting the turbine-generator units to a shore station with project controls and interconnection equipment; and a 1,900 to 4,600-foot-long, 4.16- to 12.7-kV transmission line connecting the shore station to an existing distribution line. The estimated average annual generationt would be 2.6 to 3.53 gigawatt-hours.

ORPC reported that it has conducted significant site characterization as part of a previous FERC preliminary permit. Previous characterization included tidal resource measurements, detailed site bathymetry and geophysical investigations.

In 2016, ORPC Solutions LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ocean Renewable Power, was selected by the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to assist with resource characterization measurements following a response to Request for Proposal (RFP). NREL conducted an analysis of tidal energy “hot spots” in the United States and identified Western Passage as a top ranking site.

High-fidelity tidal resource characterization will be conducted in the vicinity of Western Passage. This effort, scheduled for early 2017, will measure the current velocity and turbulence in Western Passage. The data collected under this effort will be made publicly available, and will provide the tidal energy industry with the detailed resource and turbulence statistics that are important to designing economical and robust tidal energy conversion devices.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced in August 2016 that Ocean Renewable Power will receive $5,350,000 through the U.S. Department of Energy to enhance the performance of its tidal turbine system. ORPC was one of 10 organizations across the country to receive funding to support the development of a commercially viable marine and hydrokinetic industry. This contract was signed with DOE on Jan. 3, 2017.

ORPC’s funded project, Advanced TidGen Power System, will incorporate the many innovations and system advancements achieved by ORPC in the past through multiple DOE and privately sponsored engineering and technology projects. These efforts have resulted in demonstrated reductions to levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and increased annual energy production (AEP).

The proposed system is based on a significant design effort performed in 2016, which included validation of an advanced non-linear control system that reduced operational losses from near 20% to less than 1%, and improved system efficiencies of 35% due to structural and turbine design enhancements. A driveline test rig has been fabricated with a full driveline section, scheduled for characterization testing in Q1 2017. An advanced encapsulated generator, which will be utilized for the project, is currently in production, with final acceptance testing scheduled for February 2017.

The new system will be built, installed, operated, and performance benchmarked in ORPC’s permitted sites in the Eastport and Lubec region, including a 12-month validation test in Western Passage, and employ local contractors and services providers.

ORPC said it intends to continue research conducted under previous preliminary permits to develop the detailed information needed to support the development of a final pilot project license application.

ORPC continues to regularly engage with local and regional stakeholders and community members. A meeting has been scheduled with the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project Adaptive Management Team on Jan. 4, 2017. The Adaptive Management Team is comprised of ORPC, state and federal regulators, and technical advisors.

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.