Ocean Renewable Power Company

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Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) is a tidal energy company based in Portland, Maine.[1] The company develops new technologies to produce hydrokinetic electric power from tidal, river, and ocean currents. It completed an eight-month pilot project to generate energy using the technology in 2013.[2]

After five years of planning, the company installed an underwater turbine to use the tides to generate clean, renewable energy. The unit[3] is nearly 100 feet long and sixty feet below the water's surface.[4] The project, located in Cobscook Bay, on the west side of Eastport, Maine [5] transmitted the first electricity ever delivered to an electricity grid from an ocean resource in North or South America. The only comparable project uses a dam in Nova Scotia. ORPC completed an eight-month pilot project to generate energy from its Cobscook Bay project.[6]

The turbines are a cross-flow design in which the axis of rotation is perpendicular to the flow of water [7] and shaped like stretched out and twisted water wheels and work on the same principle: as the tide comes and goes the turbine spins, generating electricity, which is then transmitted through a buried power cable to a small on shore station. And from there it is fed to the public electrical grid. The equipment's below water. There are marker buoys for the project area. The technology doesn't just apply to tidal, it applies to river and offshore ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream.[4]

It is a $21 million project funded almost equally between private and public sources. The Energy Department invested $10 million in it. It produces enough electricity for 25 homes. Said Jose Zayas, director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office at the Department of Energy, "These first pioneering projects are complicated (and) really breaking new ground."[4] Said Paul Jacobson, an ocean energy expert at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute. "With this project, these tidal power devices have finally crossed the threshold into commercial development." [5]

ORPC pursued and won the first contract with the Maine Public Utilities Commission to provide up to 5 megawatts of tidal power. ORPC will receive 21.5 cents per kilowatt hour produced, which is higher than the fluctuating price paid to producers on the open electricity market. They determined that the economic benefits that would accrue to the state would be a factor of 1.8, meaning more money would be returned to the Maine economy through jobs and taxes than was being invested in the higher rate paid.[8] Maine's state senate president, Kevin Raye, described the deal as major milestone "in the 80-year effort to commercially harness the vast power of the tides”.[1] ORPC plans to deploy additional TidGens at the 60-acre site in Cobscook Bay. The project will come online in phases.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pentland, William (2012-04-29). "Maine Takes Tidal Power to Next Level". Forbes. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  2. ^ The Little Town that Might James Fallows Dec 22 2013 The Atlantic
  3. ^ Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), USA. "Chain of Horizontal Gorlov turbines being installed in Cobscook Bay, Maine, USA". Image. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Can a Small Maine Town's Innovation Turn the Tides on Sustainable Energy?". PBS NewsHour. 2013-09-15. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Woodard, Colin (2012-07-21). "Maine company leading way as tidal energy comes of age". Maine Sunday Telegram. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Fallows, James (22 December 2013). "Eastport, Maine: The Little Town that Might". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Fountain, Henry (2010-04-22). "Generating Megawatts Like Clockwork". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Groening, Tom (2012-09-13). "Electricity flows from ocean turbine to grid for first time in western hemisphere". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 

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