Survey of Energy Resources Interim Update 2009
SER 2007 version >Tidal Energy Country Notes update
The harnessing of the tidal energy resource in the Minas Passage is one of the commitments the Government of Nova Scotia made in response to the Strategic Environmental Assessment for offshore renewable energy in the Bay of Fundy. The Fundy Tidal Institute has been established to facilitate the work of the three companies appointed by the Government of Nova Scotia, allowing them to test their respective technologies and to share costs, potential impact and testing conditions.
The three companies are employing different techniques in the demonstration pilot-scale project: Clean Current Power Systems of Canada is using a Clean Current Mark III Turbine; Minas Basin Pulp and Power is using Marine Current Technology's SeaGen turbine and NSPI has chosen an Irish OpenHydro turbine.
Minas Basin Pulp and Paper has reported that, following a scientific marine survey during July 2008 and data analysis in subsequent months, a specific site for locating the turbines has been chosen. NSPI/OpenHydro is expected to install their turbine during 2009; Clean Current and Minas Basin Pulp and Paper in Spring 2010. During the project, destined to last at least two years, the electricity produced will be fed onshore via underwater cables and then into the grid.
The province of New Brunswick which borders the landward side of the Bay of Fundy also conducted a Strategic Environmental Assessment of In-Stream Energy Generation Development during 2008. At the present time a tidal energy development policy is being considered.
Verdant Power of the USA has announced its Cornwall Ontario River Energy (CORE) scheme on the St Lawrence River. Phase 1 - Demonstration Pilot (2009-2010) will be followed by Phase 2 - Commercial Field Build-Out. The project could ultimately generate up to 15 MW of electricity.
It was announced during 2008 that EDF, the leading electricity producer in France, plans a pilot tidal turbine system off the coast of Brittany. The project, consisting of 4 to 10 turbines, with a total capacity of between
2 and 4 MW will be sited at Paimpol-Bréhat (Côtes d'Armor). In October 2008, EDF stated that the company had appointed OpenHydro of Ireland to equip the demonstration tidal farm, which is scheduled to be connected to the grid from 2011 onwards.
The UK's Energy Act 2008 became law in November 2008 and will implement the legislative aspects of the 2007 Energy White Paper: Meeting the Energy Challenge. In part, the Act will strengthen the Renewables Obligation to drive greater and more rapid deployment of renewable energy in the UK. In December 2008 a draft Renewables Obligation Order 2009 was published.
In October 2007 the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), on behalf of the Government, published the results of a year-long study looking at the full range of tidal power technologies available. The Commission was charged with examining the sustainable use of the UK's tidal resource, in particular how the power of the Severn Estuary, with its British and European legal conservation protection, could be used. It will be necessary for any ensuing development to first clear the hurdles of the many environmental concerns.
In late January 2009 the Government announced that it was halfway through a feasibility study looking at all aspects of a tidal plant in the Severn Estuary. After studying 10 possible schemes there will now be a three-month consultation period studying a short list of five proposals using a range of options: three using a barrage scheme and two, a lagoon.
2008 saw the first UK grid-connected 250 kW tidal turbines. In May, the Irish company OpenHydro began producing electricity for national consumption at its European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) site off the southwestern coast of the island of Eday, Orkney. Later in the year, also at EMEC, OpenHydro installed the world's first specialist barge for deployment of full-scale seabed-mounted tidal turbines.
Work on surveying the waters surrounding the island of Alderney and the preparation of environmental studies have taken place over a period of three years and involved OpenHydro and Alderney Renewable Energy Ltd. (ARE). This cooperation resulted in 2008 in OpenHydro acquiring a 20% shareholding in ARE. Moreover, ARE received an exclusive 65-year licence from the States of Alderney for electricity generation from tidal (and wave) energy in the island's territorial waters.
Following Marine Current Turbines' (MCT) development of its Seaflow turbine and the experience gained from its deployment offshore from Lynmouth, Devon, the next-generation SeaGen turbine achieved a world first during 2008. In May a 1.2 MW, 16 m diameter, twin rotor system was installed in Strangford Narrows, Northern Ireland. After a period of testing, the world's first commercial-scale tidal stream project achieved power generation at maximum capacity in December 2008. The electricity produced is being purchased by the Irish company ESB Independent Energy, for customers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Early in 2008, MCT joined in partnership with npower renewables to develop a tidal stream project under the management of a newly-created company, SeaGen Wales. The plan is for a 10.5 MW farm to be located in The Skerries, off the northwest coast of Anglesey. Evaluation of the site during 2008 is expected to be followed by an application for planning permission during 2009 and a completion date in 2011/2012. The electricity generated would feed into the national grid.
Another venture for MCT, announced in November 2008, is a tidal scheme for the Pentland Firth, Scotland. The company will apply for a lease from the Crown Estate and, subject to finance and gaining consent, plans a 50 MW plant by 2015.
United States of America
Phase 2 (2006-2008) of Verdant Power's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project (RITE) encountered some unexpected problems when both the first and second set of turbine blades were destroyed by the strong tides of New York City's East River. In early September 2008, a third and stronger set of blades was installed. The project is presently being tested, and also monitored for its effect on fish and water birds. The electricity produced is being supplied to two consumers on Roosevelt Island. It is intended that Phase 3 (2009-2012) will represent commercial development.
Preliminary Permits have been obtained by ORPC (Ocean Renewable Power Company) from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for proposed tidal energy projects in offshore waters in Maine (Western Passage or Cobscook Bay, near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy), Alaska (Cook Inlet, near Anchorage) and Florida (Florida Current or Gulf Stream off the east coast). It is planned that following demonstration and testing of pilot plants, prototype commercial-scale OCGen™ turbines will be installed.