News Article

Tidal power, marine tech firms attract DOE funding
Date: Sep 01, 2010
Author: Kyle Alspach
Source: Boston Business Journal ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Ocean Renewable Power Company LLC of Portland, ME

Ocean Renewable Power Company LLC has received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for its project to install tidal power systems off the coast of Maine, and several other New England firms developing marine and hydrokinetic technologies also received grants.

The Portland, Maine-based company's project will "significantly advance the technical, operational and environmental goals of the tidal energy industry at large," the DOE said in its announcement. The company's overall project cost is $21 million, the DOE said.

Other award winners are Scientific Solutions Inc., of Nashua, N.H., which received $600,000; Free Flow Energy Inc. of Lee, N.H., which received $160,000; Boston-based Resolute Marine Energy Inc., which received $160,000; and Cambridge-based Semprus Biosciences, which received $160,000.

The DOE this week awarded a total of 27 grants, worth $37 million, to accelerate the progress of marine and hydrokinetic technologies.

Ocean Renewable Power received the largest of the grants, along with a public utility district in Everett, Wash., which also received $10 million.

The company's plan involves building, installing, operating and monitoring an array of five of its "TidGen" systems on the sea floor in Cobscook Bay off Eastport, Maine. The project will take place in two phases over three years, the DOE said.

The project will produce a grid-connected energy system that will also gather key technical and cost performance data, according to the department.

Ocean Renewable Power announced in August that its tidal energy system in Eastport began generating grid-compatible electricity for the first time. The system is the largest ocean energy power plant ever installed in U.S. waters and has a maximum capacity of 60 kilowatts, according to the company.

CEO Christopher Sauer recently told Mass High Tech that the company plans to install its first system for supplying the electric grid by the end of 2011, a 150-kilowatt permanent system, at a site about a half mile from shore in Eastport.

The company plans to continue installing systems in the Eastport area in following years -- potentially reaching more than 100 megawatts of tidal power within the decade.

The firm also expects to develop projects in Alaska, New Brunswick and, most likely, the Muskeget Channel off Martha's Vineyard, Sauer said.

The company says it is well along in securing permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its first project in Alaska, and it is helping to set precedents with the commission for how tidal power projects are regulated. Ocean Renewable Power has raised $20 million in funding, mostly from undisclosed sources, according to Sauer.

The company was founded in Florida in 2004 as Red Circle Systems Corp. and aimed to use the Gulf Stream as the energy source for its underwater turbines. The company moved its operation to Fall River, where it still has a one-person office, before moving to Portland in early 2008.