U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today praised an announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy that it is awarding Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) two grants totaling nearly $5 million to improve their TidGen Power System.
"Renewable energy sources, like tidal power, offer a promising opportunity to help our state and nation make significant strides in the direction of energy security and independence," Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. "With the continent's first commercial tidal turbine, ORPC and its partners have demonstrated that Maine continues to be on the vanguard of renewable energy development, and these funds will help to bolster their TidGen Power System by improving its efficiency and energy production."
The first grant, in the amount of $1.93 million, will be utilized to develop a control system that predicts tidal conditions. Those measurements will then be used to adjust turbine settings for optimal performance in order to more efficiently harvest energy in highly turbulent water. The second grant, in the amount of $3 million, will be utilized to conduct a study of system components that convert water currents into electricity in order to help develop more efficient equipment in tidal, wave, and river current generators.
In August 2012, ORPC launched its TidGen Power System, North America's first commercial grid-tied tidal power project, in Cobscook Bay at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy between Lubec and Eastport. The system is designed to generate electricity at water depths of 50 to 100 feet and is used at shallow tidal and deep river sites. It connects directly to an on-shore station through a single underwater transmission line.
ORPC also plans to deploy power systems in Western Passage, also in the Bay of Fundy region, that will connect to the New England power grid through Bangor Hydro Electric.