Today $951,000 in funding was released through the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for the University of Maine to research tidal energy, which is currently underway off the coast of Eastport.
“Our state has the natural resources, the technology, the skills and the hardworking people to become a world leader in tidal energy,” said Congressman Mike Michaud, who helped secure the funding. “This funding for research and development will help create jobs and assist our state in moving forward on the development of this clean, renewable source of energy.”
According to the University of Maine, this funding will be used to advance efforts to develop Maine’s tidal power resource. A research collaborative led by university scientists has begun evaluating the potential environmental impact of harnessing tidal energy off Maine’s coast. An environmental impact assessment is a key component of this research, and several scientists are pursuing those studies.
Tidal power is created by submerged turbines with foils that are turned by the ocean’s currents similar to the way that wind moves turbines on land. Before full commercialization occurs, researchers and developers need to understand how the turbines will fit into the ocean environment. Estimates show that in the next five to seven years, tidal energy has the potential to be a billion dollar industry in Maine, creating several hundred jobs.