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DOE Releases Reports on Major Potential of Wave and Tidal Energy Offshore USA

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released two nationwide resource assessments showing that waves and tidal currents off the nation’s coasts could contribute significantly to the United States’ total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities.

These new wave and tidal resource assessments, combined with ongoing analyses of the technologies and other resource assessments, show that water power, including conventional hydropower and wave, tidal, and other water power resources, can potentially provide 15% of our nation’s electricity by 2030. The reports represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America’s ocean energy resources. The information in these resource assessments can help to further develop the country’s significant ocean energy resources, create new industries and new jobs in America, and secure U.S. leadership in an emerging global market.

The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum theoretical electric generation that could be produced from waves and tidal currents is approximately 1,420 TWh per year, approximately one-third of the nation’s total annual electricity usage. Although not all of the resource potential identified in these assessments can realistically be developed, the results still represent major opportunities for new water power development in the United States, highlighting specific opportunities to expand on the 6% of the nation’s electricity already generated from renewable hydropower resources.

The two reports—”Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource” and “Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States”—calculate the maximum kinetic energy available from waves and tides off U.S. coasts that could be used for future energy production, and which represent largely untapped opportunities for renewable energy development in the United States.

The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities for wave energy also exist along the East Coast. Additionally, parts of both the West and East Coasts have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.

Earlier this year, DOE announced the availability of its national tidal resource database, which maps the maximum theoretically available energy in the nation’s tidal streams. This database contributed to the “Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States” report, prepared by Georgia Tech.

The wave energy assessment report, titled “Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource,” was prepared by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), with support and data validation from researchers at Virginia Tech and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The report describes the methods used to produce geospatial data and to map the average annual and monthly significant wave height, wave energy period, mean direction, and wave power density in the coastal United States. NREL incorporated the data into a new marine and hydrokinetic energy section in their U.S. Renewable Resource atlas.

In addition to the wave and tidal resource assessments released , DOE plans to release additional resource assessments for ocean current, ocean thermal gradients, and new hydropower resources in 2012. To support the development of technologies that can tap into these vast water power resources, DOE’s Water Power Program is undertaking a detailed technical and economic assessment of a wide range of water power technologies in order to more accurately predict the opportunities and costs of developing and deploying these innovative technologies. The Program is currently sponsoring over 40 demonstration projects that will advance the commercial readiness of these systems, provide first-of-a-kind, in-water performance data that will validate cost-of-energy predictions, and identify pathways for large cost reductions.

These resource assessments, techno-economic assessments, and technology demonstration projects are critical elements of DOE’s strategy to capture the very real opportunities associated with water power development, and to further define the path to supplying 15% of the nation’s electricity through water power technologies.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. DOE’s Water Power Program is paving the way for industry and government to make sound investment and policy decisions about the deployment of renewable water power technologies by quantifying the nation’s theoretically available water power resources.

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UK: Tidal Energy, Possible Answer for Renewable Industry

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THE latest bid to revive plans for a Severn barrage comes at a time when the renewable energy sector is facing increasing problems.

Supporters of a barrage argue that it is second only to wind power in its ability to produce a substantial amount of electricity and in being a proven technology.

That is debatable, but what is certain is that the wind industry is facing increasing difficulties in getting projects off the ground.

Not only are wind farms becoming more likely to be rejected by local planners, investors are becoming increasingly put off by a perceived lack of political support, particularly in Wales.

This was highlighted in the summer when First Minister Carwyn Jones announced that the Welsh Government did not see the need for a large overhead pylon network in Mid Wales to connect wind farm developments to the grid.

The statement suggested the Welsh Government did not support major new wind farm developments since burying the power cables would add significantly to the cost.

The solar power industry has also had a hard time of it, although it is perhaps a victim of its own success.

The UK Government has twice changed the framework on feed-in tariffs (FITs), on both occasions causing disruption in the sector.

First it imposed an upper limit of 50 kilowatts (kw) on the size of installations entitled to FITs, killing off the development of large solar parks. Then it announced it was to half the FITs rate from 43p to 21p by December 12, a far larger and earlier cut than had been previously suggested.

Supporters of renewable energy hope new biomass and anaerobic digestion plants will take up some of the slack, but there is every likelihood these will also face local planning difficulties, as waste burning plants elsewhere have.

In this context, tidal energy projects could be the best hope for renewable energy.

by Chris Kelsey (walesonline)

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UK: Siemens Increases Stake in Tidal Energy Company Marine Current Turbines

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British tidal energy company, Marine Current Turbines Ltd, announces that Siemens is increasing its share in the company to 45%.

With this increase in its stake, Siemens is strengthening its activities in ocean power generation. We will actively shape the commercialization process of innovative marine current power plants,” said Michael Axmann, CFO of the newly founded Solar & Hydro Division within Siemens’ Energy Sector.

Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has evolved from a pioneer to a technology leader in horizontal axis marine current turbines and now has 25 employees. In February 2010 Siemens acquired a minor stake in the Bristol-based company and thus entered the marine tidal current market. Financial details of today’s announcement are not disclosed.

Ocean power is emerging with strong growth rates driven by global CO2 reduction commitments. Until 2020, experts anticipate double-digit growth rates for the ocean power market. Based on further estimates the global potential for power generation using tidal power plants is 800 terrawatt-hours (TWh) per annum. For comparison, that is equivalent to between three and four percent of power consumption worldwide.

Dr Andrew Tyler, CEO of MCT said: “Through the expansion of the partnership with Siemens, we have further strengthened our position in the tidal energy market. We have the increased backing of a major industrial player which is essential to support the commercialization of our proven technology. We are about to approach investors to secure funding for our first two tidal array projects, and Siemens’ increased investment as well as UK Government support should give investors the confidence that we have the necessary backing to deliver these crucial projects and the ones to follow.”

MCT plans to present two Project Investment Prospectuses to the market within the next month for its 8 megawatts (MW) Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and its 10 MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales. For both projects, applications for leases from The Crown Estate have already been approved. The UK Government’s recent ROCs Banding announcement (October 20) will support these projects with 5 ROCs per megawatt hour proposed for tidal energy.

In addition, MCT is planning to deploy a tidal system into the FORCE facility in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and has an approval for a lease from The Crown Estate to deploy a 100 MW tidal farm off Brough Ness, on the southern most tip of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

MCT has already successfully implemented its first commercial scale demonstrator project SeaGen in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. Since November 2008, SeaGen’s two axial turbines, with a combined capacity of 1.2MW, have been feeding power into the grid to supply the equivalent of around 1500 homes. SeaGen has to date generated over 2.7GWh of electricity to the grid, the largest amount of electricity in the whole of the ocean power sector.

Marine current turbines generate electricity by utilizing tidal current flows. The SeaGen turbine is fixed on a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides with a key advantage that the generated power is precisely predictable in the tidal cycle. This technology effectively is similar to that of a wind turbine with the rotor blades driven not by wind power but by tidal currents. Water has an energy density of more than 800 times that of wind. Twin rotors rotate with the movement of the tidal flow and pitch through 180 degrees to optimally track tidal current direction and speed.

Marine current turbines are part of Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio. In fiscal 2010, revenue from the Portfolio totaled about EUR28 billion, making Siemens the world’s largest supplier of ecofriendly technologies. In the same period, Siemens’ products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 270 million tons, an amount equal to the total annual CO2 emissions of Hong Kong, London, New York, Tokyo, Delhi and Singapore.

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UK: Rolls-Royce Hits 100MWh Milestone with Tidal Technology

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Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has achieved a significant milestone in the deployment of tidal energy technology with confirmation that its prototype tidal turbine, located subsea off the Orkney Islands, Scotland​, has successfully generated and fed over 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of electrical power into the national grid.

Harnessing the reliable and predictable energy of tidal streams, the 500 kilowatt (kW) tidal turbine prototype was designed and built by Rolls-Royce wholly owned subsidiary Tidal Generation Limited.

Robert Stevenson, Rolls-Royce, Vice-President – Power Ventures said: “Rolls-Royce has injected its world-class engineering expertise and incubation processes to deliver this innovative renewable energy project. Reaching the 100 megawatt hours milestone highlights the significant potential of cleaner, greener tidal power as part of a diversified UK energy mix. Having proven the capability of tidal energy, Rolls-Royce is well placed to meet any future demand with larger, more efficient technology on a commercial scale.”

As a reliable and predictable energy source, deep water tidal stream power generation could make a valuable contribution to meeting the electricity demands and carbon emissions reduction objectives of many industrialised nations, including the UK, Canada, Australia and the U.S.A. For example, Rolls-Royce tidal technology could generate up to 30TWh (terawatt-hours) of UK electricity, equivalent to around 7.5 per cent of existing UK electricity needs or enough to power 3 million homes.

Rolls-Royce Hits 100MWh Milestone with Tidal Technology (UK)

Harnessing the Energy of Tidal Streams

Installed as part of the Deep-Gen III project, co-funded by the UK government-backed Technology Strategy Board, the Rolls-Royce prototype tidal turbine is currently deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) offshore test site off the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It is the first EMEC located project to both receive Renewable Obligation Certificates and to reach 100 MWh of supply to the grid.

The tidal unit’s three-bladed turbine is attached by a tripod to the seabed and can operate, fully submerged at water depth of 40 meters. Its innovative design allows the turbine to continually rotate to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle. In addition, the turbine unit is semi-buoyant and can be easily towed to and from the point of operation, minimising installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialist vessels.

Neil Morgan, Head of Energy at the Technology Strategy Board said: “This is a significant milestone for the UK marine renewables industry. The UK is well-placed to exploit tidal stream energy resources and, if commercialised on a large scale, this technology could be an important part of the renewable energy mix we’ll need in the future, and could create jobs and exports for the UK.”

As part of the Energy Technologies Institute funded ReDAPT (Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal) consortium project, Rolls-Royce is currently building a 1MW tidal turbine demonstration unit that will be deployed in mid-2012 at EMEC in Orkney. The project will deliver detailed environmental and performance information never before achieved at this scale in real sea conditions. Rolls-Royce is also working with a number of developers in advancing demonstration arrays, systematic arrangements of turbines, which will lead to large scale commercial deployment.

Dr David Clarke, ETI, Chief Executive said: “The U.K. is already a world-leader in this exciting renewable sector. However, the long-term viability of tidal technology depends on it becoming competitive with other renewable energy sources. Continued investment and new partners are urgently needed to maintain momentum and bring the technology to scale.”

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