Saturday, July 19, 2008

East Coast Getting Tidal Energy Projects

Two fair-sized tidal energy projects are on their way to the east coast. First up is (ready for this mouthful?) the Edgartown-Nantucket Tidal Energy Plant Water Power Project. The project proposes 50 underwater turbines turned by the ebb and flow of the tide. A 3 mile-long transmission line would carry the electricity generated to land, where it would be sold to local utilities. Edgartown and Nantucket would be the beneficiaries of the 2 MW of peak output.

The second project is planned for Vineyard Sound and it has a slightly more manageable title: The Cape and Islands Tidal Energy Project. This project is looking at clusters of underwater turbines – each with the ability to put out between 1 and 3 MW during peak tide – with up to 150 of these energy generators installed. The proposed turbines are on the scale of what was recently installed off Ireland, which is a 1.2 MW turbine and touted as the world’s largest.

Right now the projects are doing research to see if this kind of output is possible, and if it can be done cheaply enough to make it viable. From what they can tell, the 1.5 meters-per-second average current speed probably won’t hack it to turn the turbines fast enough for them to create enough electricity to make the project worth while. It takes a current speed of about 2 meters-per-second to get that kind of energy generation going. Locals, and EcoGeeks, are eagerly awaiting more test results to find out if these projects could work.

Original here

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