Tidal power Maine Company receives $10 million from DOE

By Ramona du Houx

September 10th, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Ocean Renewable Power Company $10 million to fund a key part of their commercial-scale tidal energy development project in Cobscook Bay.

ORPC, based in Portland, Maine, received one of the two largest grants of the total $37 million awarded by the federal Department of Energy September 9, 2010.

“This is a huge step forward for the ocean energy industry in the state of Maine and all the benefits that brings. ORPC is deeply appreciative of the Maine delegation and their dedication to creating economic benefits for the citizens of Maine,” said Christopher R. Sauer, President & CEO, ORPC.

According to ORPC, the objective of the TidGen™ Power System Project is to advance the company’s tidal energy technology on a commercial scale and deliver electricity to the domestic power grid.

Two weeks ago, Governor John Baldacci joined Congressman Mike Michaud and U.S. Coast Guard officials for a tour and demonstration of ORPC’s successful generation of energy through the use of tidal currents in Cobscook Bay. The company is partnering with the University of Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard, and has received financial support from the State’s Maine Technology Institute.

“I am pleased that Ocean Renewable Power Company has again been recognized for its leadership in development of tidal energy technology,” said Governor Baldacci. “The company is demonstrating that clean energy derived from Maine’s abundant natural resources has great potential to grow new jobs and yield economic gains for Maine residents.”

In July, the company was awarded $750,000 from the Department of Energy to refine cross flow turbines, which the DOE said will help identify the best designs and manufacturing process for turbines.

“I saw ORPC’s ocean energy demonstration for the Coast Guard last month, and the practical applications of this source of clean energy have enormous potential. This multi-year project in eastern Washington County represents a substantial, concrete step forward for ocean energy development in Maine,” said Michaud.

The Governor said the success of Ocean Renewable Power Company is important to the entire State as public and private partners in Maine continue to aggressively pursue development of clean, renewable energy.

“The ocean energy industry in Maine shows great promise,” said Governor Baldacci. “Maine needs to continue its efforts to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels by harnessing our natural resources. This will create valuable jobs here at home, and preserve our environment and quality of life.”

The project’s thirteen month first phase will build, install, and commence operations of the first TidGen™ Power System, interconnected with the Bangor Hydro Electric Company distribution grid. This first deployed TidGen™ Power System will include extensive equipment to collect environmental data and information regarding operating performance. During Phase 1, ORPC will perform detailed testing and monitoring of the local environment as well as all components and subsystems on the device.

During Phase 2, ORPC will continue operating and testing the first deployed system for a period of one year while also building and installing four additional TidGen™ devices. Power and control cables from the TidGen™ devices will be connected to an underwater consolidation box, and a single underwater power and control cable will connect the system to an electrical substation onshore. The four TidGen™ devices deployed during Phase 2 will be coupled together with the Phase 1 TidGen™ device to form an underwater array of five devices interconnected within a commercial-scale TidGen™ Power System, which will then continue to be operated and tested for a period of one year after integration.

In partnership with the Maine Legislature, the Baldacci Administration has worked to improve and update Maine laws to realize the potential for harnessing energy.

Maine also continues to explore opportunities with Nova Scotia for collaboration regarding research, technology and deployment of tidal energy and will be participating in a two-day workshop planned for Wednesday, October 13 and Thursday, October 14 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Governor Baldacci and Premier Dexter signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Ocean Energy Development on July 12, 2010 to share information on renewable electricity with a focus on ocean tidal energy.